The European Rover Challenge (ERC) is an integrated programme working towards technological developments, specifically those in GPS-denied environments, with space exploration and utilisation as the leading theme. The ultimate goal of the ERC is to become a standardised test trial and benchmark for planetary robotic activities, coupled with strong professional career development platform.

The competition is divided into two separate formulas: on-site & remote. Participants can enter one or both formulas. Each formula demands a dedicated approach and challenges participating teams with different tasks.

In the on-site formula, student teams from all over the world work hard to prepare a fully functional Mars rover of their design. The rover has to be a standalone, mobile platform. All teams that go through the qualifications, get to compete on an artificial martian track in Poland in numerous challenging tasks based on real NASA & ESA missions.

Teams taking part in the remote formula will all use standardised equipment during the competition, with which they will connect remotely via the Internet from anywhere on Earth. The winner of the competition will be the one who most reliably prepares the software necessary for the mission and demonstrates effectiveness in team management, reacting to critical situations and change management.







This task is intended to demonstrate the system’s ability for semi to fully autonomous traversal. The Team shall develop a project which gradually evolves into a fully autonomous system, traversing and gathering important data on its way. At an early stage, the system can be decoupled with the operator in the loop, but all planning and parameter estimation must be done by the computer system itself. This limits the operator to navigate the rover blindly i.e., without access to visual or any other spatial information, however, any kind of data can be processed on-board, providing the operator with support information about the localisation and state of the system. A smart navigation strategy, sensor fusion and image data processing are essential in this task.

The Teams will be given 20 minutes to perform Navigation Task traversal. The Teams will be given 15 minutes before the Task start to prepare the Rover for the traversal. This time is called the Preparation Phase.

Task description above is for illustration purposes only, see the official rulebook for reference.


The aim of the science task is to prepare and execute a simple science-driven exploration plan of our Mars Yard. The task is divided into two parts:

  1. Science planning
    The goal of the Science Planning part is to analyse the “landing site” and design a scientific mission in this area. The task includes preparing the following: geological map of the Mars Yard; a short description of the geological history of the area; a falsifiable hypothesis and its justification.
  2. Scientific Exploration
    The aim of this part is to verify the hypothesis stated in the Science Planning and perform scientific documentation or measurements on the way.

Task description above is for illustration purposes only, see the official rulebook for reference.


The task is intended to demonstrate the ability of rovers to operate with a variety of elements mounted on a panel. The Team has to use the rover’s manipulating device to set switches to the required positions, measure electrical parameters, set other panel controls and observe indicators’ feedback.

The time for this task is limited to 30 minutes (and 15 minutes of preparation prior execution of the task). The rover should be equipped with a manipulation device allowing interaction with the control panel designed for a human operator.

Task description above is for illustration purposes only, see the official rulebook for reference.


The Presentation Task lets Teams introduce themselves and present their projects. The Jury expects to learn how the Team worked on the project, what kind of technical solutions are implemented in the rover (on-site formula) or in the software (remote formula), what was the approach of the Team to solve particular tasks during the competition (e.g. electro-mechanical design, algorithms for both onsite and remote formulas), and how the team solved problems and issues which occurred during development (lessons learned). The team should also be prepared for a Q&A session and discussions with Judges.

The Presentation Task is applicable for both on-site and remote formulas. Teams that take part in both formulas will perform the Task twice.

Task description above is for illustration purposes only, see the official rulebook for reference.

The ERC rover competition is held on a special Martian track. It is a unique, expert-designed installation inspired by a selected fragment of the Red Planet.

Our Mars Yard showcases processes that shape the landscape of the Red Planet: we create a complex geological puzzle consisting of numerous impact craters, dunes, dry river valleys, and various volcanic features that very few people can solve. To make things even more absurdly complicated, our Mars Yard is different each year and represents a distinct region of the Red Planet. The ERC’21 Mars Yard showed two active volcanoes, three impact craters, three distinctive generations of lava flows and a myriad of tectonic features, and rootles cones indicative of lava–ice interaction. ~ Anna Łosiak, main judge of the Science task

Mars Yard design evolves every year.



ERC remote formula SOON

In the Remote Edition of the European Rover Challenge, the Teams will teleoperate and run their software on standardized equipment provided by the Organizer. This means every team will compete using the same hardware and will need to show their skills in software development, mission planning, risk management and other soft skills.

This means the pressure of the Remote Edition (compared to the on-site event) has been moved from freestyle rover and robotic arm design and operation to more thought-of and planned all-year preparation where every team starts from the same position.

The ones who win will be the ones who show the best skills and execution of the mission planning.

More details about the remote formula will be available soon!

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