The UKURC rules are now available. The rules are the teams guide to know what to build. Each team should print off a copy, and go over them with your teammates, and everything will become clear.

Click on the links below to download more information:

  • UKURC Rules June 2016 – all your team needs to know to build and compete in the UKURC
  • UKURC Launch – More information on the upcoming challenge and who we are

Look to YouTube to view past video of the University Rover Challenge in the U.S.A. for some inspiration.

Good luck and we look forward to seeing you at the UK University Rover Challenge!

For any help or questions about the rules, or the competition in general, please email A forum page will be available shortly.


Rules are pasted in text format below, however formatting isn’t preserved and you’ll need to refer to the Pdf document in order to ask questions with reference to the correctly numbered sections

 UK University Rover Challenge Rules 2016

Last modified: 27th June 2016

Any issues not covered by these published rule sets will be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the UK University Rover Challenge (UKURC) Director. Please consult the Questions and Answers (Q&A) portion of the UKURC website ( for updates. All matters addressed in the Q&A are applicable to the requirements and guidelines.


  1. Competition Overview
  • 1.a.  The 2016 UK University Rover Challenge will be held July 23rd-24th, 2016 at Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom. All teams selected for the UKURC competition will compete in three rover tasks and one presentation task.  The rover tasks are the Mobility Task, Science Survey Task, and Astronaut Assist Task.
  • 1.b.  The rover shall be a stand-alone, off-the-grid, mobile platform.
    • 1.b.i.  A single connected platform must leave the designated start gate and return to this location (except when otherwise indicated). In the open field, the primary platform may deploy any number of smaller sub-platforms, so long as the combined master/slave sub-platforms meet all additional requirements published.
    • 1.b.ii. No drones/aerial vehicles may be deployed.
  • 1.c.  Teams will operate their rovers from designated command and control stations. These stations will be tents with tarp walls restricting visibility of the course (to be provided). They will be situated close to the task area with the majority of the task area being contained within a 150 metre radius of the tent. Basic power (240 V, 50 Hz), tables, and chairs will be provided. All of the competition events will be held in full daylight.
  • 1.d.  There is no restriction on the number of team members or operators allowed. All operators must remain in the designated operators’ area. No one may follow alongside the rover for the purpose of providing feedback to the operators. Members of the judging team, media, non-operator team members, and other spectators may follow a rover at the judge’s discretion. Team members following the rover may activate an emergency kill switch (only in the event of an emergency), but may not otherwise participate in that task. Non-operator team members may be used to recover the rover in the event of a failure or failed trial.
  • 1.e.  The Cathedral Gardens site will be set up as a Mars analogue. We intend to construct terrain that presents similar challenges to those encountered on the surface of Mars, including conditions that are likely to be encountered in international competitions.
  • 1.f.  Competition Participation. The UKURC is primarily for UK student participants at this time. International student teams may be requested to take part by invitation only. We intend to use the UKURC as a proving ground for UK teams who want to prepare themselves for competition at the international level. Down-selection of UK teams will only occur if the number of applicant teams exceeds the capacity of the available venue.


  1. Rover Guidelines
  • 2.a.  Rovers shall utilise power and propulsion systems that are applicable to operations on Mars. Air-breathing systems (such as internal combustion engines and certain fuel cells) are not permissible. The UKURC Director further reserves the right to ban any system deemed unsafe from competition.
  • 2.b.  The maximum allowable mass of the rover when deployed for any competition task is 50 kg. The total mass of all fielded rover parts for all events is 70 kg. For example a modular rover may have a robotic arm and a sensor that are never on the rover at the same time. The rover plus arm or rover plus sensor must each be under 50 kg, but the total rover plus arm plus sensor must only be less than 70 kg. The weight limits do not include any spares or tools used to prepare or maintain the rover or any command station equipment. There are no minimum or maximum dimensions for the rover, but the Mobility Task provides operational constraints that may affect design.
    • 2.b.i.  For each task in which the rover is overweight, the team shall incur a penalty of 5% of the points scored, per kilogram over the allowed 50 kg.
    • 2.b.ii.  Rovers over 70 kg in any given configuration must be cleared with the UKURC Director by email prior to June 10, 2016 to be eligible to compete.
  • 2.c.  The rover is not required to be autonomous although some level of autonomy may be beneficial. It may be operated remotely by a team which will not be able to view the rover on the site or the site itself directly. The rover may be commanded by the team using a wireless link, with information needed for guiding the rover acquired by the rover’s own on-board systems and transmitted to the team wirelessly. There shall be no time delay in communications, as the UKURC is based on the assumption that the rovers in question are telerobots, being operated by astronauts on or orbiting Mars.
  • 2.d.  Communications with the rover will be via WiFi (IEEE 802.11 protocol) using the frequencies 2.4 GHz – 2.4835 GHz. Any equipment used must be compliant with UK (Ofcom) regulations. Teams may be required to power down communications equipment at the task area while not competing, so as not to interfere with other teams. Teams shall use center frequencies that correspond to channels 1-11 of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11 standard for 2.4 GHz. Teams shall not use frequency bandwidths wider than 22 MHz.
    • 2.d.i. Both omnidirectional and directional antennae are allowed, but communications equipment must not rely on the team’s ability to watch and track the rover first hand. If a team wishes to steer a directional antenna they may:

Steer it manually from inside the control station with no visual feedback on position. (Note that antennas suffer extremely degraded performance when operating inside metal structures and this approach is strongly discouraged).

Use a mechanised antenna mounted outside that is controlled via an electronic signal from the command station or operates autonomously.

Place someone outside to manually turn the antenna to point at the rover. Since they can see the rover they are not allowed to communicate with operators inside the control station. This option comes at a 20% penalty per task used.

For any of the above options, signal strength, relayed GPS, or other strategies may be used to give feedback on antenna direction.

2.d.ii. Antenna height is limited to 3m. Antennas need to be constructed with self-supporting bases for stability as you will not be allowed to anchor them into the ground. Antenna bases must be located within 1.5 metres of the team’s control station, and shall adhere to all applicable regulations.

2.d.iii. Teams are reminded that the competition is being conducted in an urban area, and that interference from other Wi-Fi usage could affect data rates.

2.e.  If a rover suffers a critical problem during a task that requires direct team intervention (including a loss of communication that requires the team to move the rover to re-establish communications), that intervention shall be subject to the following:

2.e.i.  A request for an intervention can only come from the team members operating the rover, not any team members spectating in the field. They may designate any number of team members who may go to repair or retrieve the rover (hereafter referred to as “runners”).

2.e.ii.  Runners may fix the rover in the field without moving it, return the rover to the command station, or return the rover to the start of that obstacle/task as defined by the judge in the field. However the judge may require the rover to be moved for the safety of the team members or preservation of the course.

2.e.iii.  If the rover is returned to the command station, runners and spectators shall not communicate any details about the task site to the team members operating the rover (judges will monitor conversations), however all team members are permitted to take part in the diagnostic and repair process.

2.e.iv.  Runners shall not be permitted to participate in the command and control of the rover or analysis of any data, after this point for the current task. Runners will still be permitted to retrieve or repair the rover in future interventions. In other words if a team member leaves the command station they are not permitted to return to operating the rover.

2.e.v.  Interventions will not be penalised if teams have not travelled more than a set distance from the start gate, this will be defined by the judges for each task. Beyond that distance teams will be penalised 20% of the total points in that task for every intervention. The task clock will continue to run during an intervention. Multiple intervention penalties in a single task are additive: e.g. two interventions would result in a score of 60% of points earned, not 0.8 x 0.8 = 64%.


  1. Presentation Task
  • 3.a.  Teams shall give a presentation to the UKURC judges describing their team, rover design and functionality. The presentation shall be in English and no longer than 15 minutes.
    • This was completed by submission of the CDR.


  1. Mobility Task

4.a. The purpose of the Mobility Task is to assess the rover’s ability to traverse simulated terrain. Keep in mind, there is always a possibility for wet weather. The task requires that the rovers visit a number of designated waypoints that represent locations of scientific interest. Teams must attempt to visit as many waypoints as possible within the time limit.

4.b. Teams will begin at a set starting point. From there, they are free to visit the waypoints in any order they choose, provided they remain within the designated boundaries of the task area.

4.c. Each waypoint will consist of a clearly marked gate, which the rover must be driven through. Teams will be scored on the number of waypoints they manage to reach within the time limit.

4.d. The terrain in the task area will include slopes of varying steepness as well as drops of less than 60cm. There will also be rock-strewn areas, stony ground, and soft, sandy areas. Teams will need to choose their route carefully.

4.e. Teams will be controlling their rover from their command tent. They will not be able to see their rover directly during the task. They must therefore ensure that their rover is equipped with suitable cameras and sensors for navigation.

4.f. Each team will be given three chances to attempt the course in a limited time frame. Each attempt will be scored separately, with only the best score achieved counting as the team’s final score. This means that teams will have three chances to get a good score in this task.

  1. Science Survey Task

5.a. This task tests the ability of the rover to perform scientific studies of a designated area of interest. These will contain a variety of rocks and soil simulants.

5.b. Each team will be given a specific amount of time to complete this task.

5.c. Once a sample is retrieved and brought back to the start area, that is your team’s sample. No further attempts will be allowed.

5.d. The rover will begin at a designated start point. The teams must then navigate their rover to the survey site.

5.e. Teams will be controlling their rover from their command tent. They will not be able to see their rover during the task. Rovers must therefore possess sufficient navigation capability to reach the site and perform the survey.

5.e.i. Teams will be required to perform a wide angle photographic survey of the site. This will be used to provide context for close up photographs. The site should be photographed from multiple angles.

5.e.ii. Teams will be required to perform close up photography of the survey site, aiming to capture as much detail as possible.

5.e.iii. Teams will be required to gather basic scientific data about the site, using suitable onboard sensors. These sensors may be mounted on a robotic arm, or by any other suitable means. Teams will be scored on the quality of data returned.

5.e.iv. Teams will be required to retrieve a sample from the site. The sample must be returned to the start area within the time limit. The sample can be in the form of soil, or a rock.

5.f. At the end of the task, teams will be given a limited amount of time to analyse the returned sample in the “lab” (the command tent) and prepare a short presentation of their findings to the judges.


  1. Astronaut Assist Task

6.a. This task tests the ability of the rover to assist an astronaut by retrieving tools for them. The task area will contain a variety of tools. The rover will be required to retrieve one of these tools and deliver it to an “astronaut”, which will be represented by a flight suit.

6.b. Each team will be given a specific amount of time to complete this task. The rover is required to retrieve as many tools as possible during the time limit.

6.c. The rover will begin at a designated start point. The teams must navigate their rover to the tools of their choosing. There will be a set time limit, so reaching the tools quickly will allow more to be retrieved.

6.d. Teams will be controlling their rover from their command tent. They will not be able to see their rover during the task. Rovers must therefore possess sufficient navigation capability to reach the activity site and perform the assist.

6.d.i. Teams will have to pick up a tool, container or other item from a selection of items arranged at different heights up to 0.5 metres. The items will range in weight and shape but not exceed 0.5 kg . Some will have handles attached to make them simple to hook onto, others will be more complex to grasp.

6.d.ii Teams will carry their item to a designated area in as quick a time as possible.

6.d.iii Teams can deliver their item by dropping it onto the ground within a designated radius of 0.5m from the astronaut.

6.e. The task will be judged on the ability of the rover to perform the activity accurately and efficiently without damaging the equipment or the astronaut.

  1. Team Management

7.a. Teams shall be required to track all finances as related to this project, and submit a final expense record no later than July 8, 2016 (if necessary, teams may submit an updated record – hard or soft copy – on the first day of the UKURC event – July 23, 2016). Teams shall be penalised 10% of total points per day if they are late in submitting the expense report, and will be disqualified for not submitting their expense report by the end of the UKURC event.

7.a.i.  The maximum allowable cash budget to be spent on the project is £10,000, which shall include money spent on parts and components for the rover, rover modules, rover power sources, rover communications equipment, and base station communications equipment (only that equipment used to communicate with the rover). The budget limit shall not apply to command and control equipment not included above (i.e. base station computers, monitors, and lab analysis equipment), tools, volunteer labour time, or travel expenses.

7.a.ii.  Teams may acquire in-kind donations of equipment. Such donations will count towards the cash budget at its documented value, except for specific exemptions granted by the UKURC Director for donations made available to all UKURC teams. Corporate sponsorship is encouraged.

7.a.iii.  Teams may be required to submit receipts as proof of budget upon request (donations must be documented by the donor).

7.a.iv.  If a team uses any parts and/or components purchased in previous years and/or leveraged from previous rovers or projects they have the option of using either the as-bought prices or may apply depreciation rules to 50% of their re-used components. If teams apply depreciation rules they must determine the current prices of all components. The idea is that teams not close to the maximum limit do not need to spend a lot of time here looking up current prices. However teams close to the maximum budget and re-using a lot of components may gain some benefit from depreciation rules if they are willing to go to the effort of finding current prices for everything, some of which – like computers – may be cheaper but others – like raw materials and machining labor – may have increased.

7.a.v.  If used equipment is purchased commercially the as-bought price may be used. If used equipment is donated to the team and no used market exists for a component then the cost of a new component must be used. Depreciation rules may then be applied if desired according to rule 7.a.iv.  Invited international teams have an allowable budget equivalent to £10,000 based on the most advantageous documented currency conversion rate between August 1, 2015 and July 23, 2016.

7.b.  There shall be one division of competition open to both graduate and undergraduate students. Teams are permitted to include secondary school (high school) students, and students from multiple universities may compete on the same team. A single university may field multiple rovers and multiple teams, however there may be no overlap between team members and leaders, budgets, donated equipment, or purchased equipment.

7.c.  Teams are encouraged to work with advisors. However, advisors are expected to limit their involvement to academic level advising only. It is incumbent upon the student team leaders to ensure that their respective teams uphold the integrity of this competition. Nontechnical team management duties, including tracking finances, fall within the duties of the students.