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for the Excellence in Engineering Design Award
Group Members
Cristina Blazquez, Diaz Andrew, John Everitt, Miguel Fuentes Montiu, Jannic Holzer, Alberto Natale, Andres Vina Bordel
Dr Hugh G Lewis, Dr Mohamed Moshrefi-Torbati
AIRBUS, RS Components, IGUS, Carbon Fibre Tubes Ltd, Graphite AM
Designed to perform similar tasks to those that real rovers do on Mars, this system has four main objectives: traversing rough terrain; transporting objects between locations; autonomously navigating to a set of GPS coordinates and detecting the presence of life on rock and soil samples. It has been built to compete at the University Rover Challenge, an event held at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, USA where 36 university teams from around the world take part.

To improve the rover’s capabilities to traverse through rough terrain, a new lightweight aluminium chassis and a carbon fibre suspension have been designed. A robotic arm fitted with new flexible 3D printed grippers, which deforms around grabbed objects, improves the rover’s dexterous capabilities. These grippers are interchangeable with a new reflectance spectroscopy system, which can detect the presence of life using a vision system and an LED array.

The system runs thanks to new electronic circuitry which ensures correct functioning. New custom autonomous traversal software allows the rover to navigate to a set of GPS coordinates, identify waypoint markers and avoid objects.

Tested at the Airbus Mars Yard, the rover has been proven to perform all its tasks reliably.