In the finals of the fourth edition of the European Rover Challenge we will see over 40 teams from six continents including a record number of participants from Europe. Teams will compete in five tasks that are based on roadmaps: strategic documents regulating future robotics missions of NASA and ESA. The ultimate goal of ERC is to become the standardized test trials and the benchmark for planetary robotic activities with strong professional career development platform.
A list of tasks awaiting for teams:
- Science task – the aim is to obtain samples of surface and subsurface layers of the soil each taken from different locations specified by judge. Samples should be cached into prepared containers. Additionally in-situ measurements and automatic documentation (photographic etc.) of collection place as well as samples will be scored.
- Maintenance task – this challenge is intended to demonstrate rovers and teams ability and performance in operating electrical panels on which several switches and other electrical components are mounted. The Team has to use rover’s manipulating device to set switches to correct positions, measure electrical parameters, set other panel controls and observe device feedback. These units are placed in two different locations, thus mobility capabilities in fine positioning of a rover are also necessary to achieve a goal.
- Collection task – the team has to reach locations marked on map, search and pick up the cache and place it into container onboard in a required orientation, then deliver container with caches to final destination. It is intended to demonstrate ability to perform cache fetching scenario.
- Traverse task – the team has to develop a project which gradually evolves into fully autonomous system, traversing and gathering important data on its way. At early stage system can be decoupled with operator in the loop but all planning and parameters estimation operations must be done by system itself. This limits operator to navigate rover blindly i.e. without access to visual or other reach spatial information. However, any kind of data can be processed on-board providing operator support information about localization and operation. The smart navigation strategy, sensor fusion and image data processing are essential in this task.
- Presentation task – it lets teams introduce themselves and present their projects. The Judges expect to learn how the team worked on the project, what kind of technical solutions are implemented in the rover and how the team solved problems and issues occurred during development. The Team should be also prepared for Q&A session.
This year organizers introduced a new program of European Rover Challenge which is called Formula PRO. It is dedicated to professional Martian rover constructors who can come to ERC and use Mars Yard infrastructure to check how their own robotics projects operate in conditions close to those on the Red Planet. Formula PRO is also open for visitors and it is not a part of main ERC tournament.