Design and manufacture of an enhanced Mars rover to enter the University Rover Challenge
Group MembersAlastair Wilcox-Hirst, Carl Heimann, Edward Wilson, Felix Brasseur, Finlay Milliner, Jonathan Hooke, Samuel Price
SupervisorsDr Hugh Lewis, Dr Mohamed Torbati
SupportersAirbus Defence & Space, Protocase Inc., RS Components, The Mars Society
Exploring the surfaces of other planets requires the ability to travel in extremely hostile environments. On missions to Mars, space agencies have traditionally used rovers as a robust and controllable roving laboratory. These can either be controlled by engineers on Earth or designed to travel autonomously across the surface. We have designed and built a rover to enter the international University Rover Challenge. The challenge is a four-task test of rovers in the desert of Utah, pushing the rover’s dexterity, terrain traversal, autonomy and scientific sampling capabilities to the limit. After inheriting a rover from previous student work, we have advanced the design so that Pegasus has become the first UKbased rover to compete in the URC’s 12-year history. We have overhauled the control software, electronics and sensory capabilities, as well as added the ability for autonomous pathfinding. We have designed and manufactured a new arm, with a two degree-of-freedom wrist, improving the rover’s dexterity, as well as new wheels to improve the rover’s performance on difficult terrain. The rover was tested in the Airbus “Mars Yard”, the testing facility of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover prototypes. This offered an opportunity to see how Pegasus performed on the closest approximation of the Martian surface found on Earth and provided the perfect preparation for the University Rover Challenge. At the time of writing, we are shipping Pegasus to Utah, and will have a result by early June. Above The Pegasus Mars Rover Top Exploded computational view of the rover.