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.

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.

The teams taking part in the REMOTE formula will all use the same equipment (Leo Rover & UR robotic arm) 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.

ON-SITE FORMULA

TASK 1

TASK 2

TASK 3

TASK 4

TASK 5

NAVIGATION TASK TASK 1

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.

SCIENCE TASK TASK 2

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.

PROBING / COLLECTION TASK TASK 3

This task intends to demonstrate the ability of the system to:

  • Collect either 3 surface samples from the given locations or 1 deep sample (perform drilling in a single location). Locations will be defined by Judges. The rover has to reach the collection/drilling locations, take the photo before, perform collections/drilling, take the photo, place each of the collected material on the rover and measure its weight
  • Place and collect probes from the rover’s cache in the locations selected by the Teams (3) and by judges (1). The Team has to reach locations marked on the map, pick up the probes from the rover’s on-board container and place these in the specified locations.

MAINTENANCE TASK TASK 4

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.

PRESENTATION TASK TASK 5

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 of the ERC 2022. Teams that take part in both formulas will perform the Task twice.

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

REMOTE FORMULA

TASK 1

TASK 2

TASK 3

TASK 4

TASK 5

SIMULATION TASK TASK 1

This simple task, together with the Preliminary Report, will be considered as a part of the qualification process (Qualification A). The goal of the task is both to check the Team readiness to ROS development and to check the ability to describe and show the work as video material. Teams are expected to record a short screencast video showing:

  • Leo Rover simulation: A short traversal of Leo Rover on the Mars Yard in Gazebo simulation
  • Robotic Arm simulation: A short movement of UR3 Robotic Arm in the Robotic Cell

NAVIGATION TASK TASK 2

The aim of the Navigation part of the Task is to navigate Leo Rover safely through Mars Yard, visit all waypoints and deliver dedicated probes to each of the waypoints.

The Teams are supposed to operate the Rover on the Mars Yard on a route previously planned in the documentation. The Rover needs to locate several waypoints and deploy a dedicated probe to each of the waypoints. To localize the waypoints and navigate the Rover in the area several landmarks will be put in well-known positions in a form of AR tagged boxes to be ‘understood’ by the Rover software.

SCIENCE TASK TASK 3

The aim of the science task is to prepare and execute a simple science-driven exploration plan of our Mars Yard. The science task will be performed at the same time as the Navigation Task. 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.

MAINTENANCE TASK TASK 4

The essence of the task is to localize and turn off faulty elements of a device during its maintenance procedure and attach an additional sensor to the device outer shell to be able to monitor it in the future. The Teams will need to manipulate buttons located on the device panel, stick a sensor to the device case, check for faulty appliance, and turn off the appliance. The wide range of requirements indicates the difficulty of this Task.

UR3 Robotic Arm access is provided to the team for this task via Platform Access Software and by running own software solution on-board.

PRESENTATION TASK TASK 5

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 of the ERC 2022. Teams that take part in both formulas will perform the Task twice.



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