Space exploration and the investigation of our solar system rely heavily on robotic systems. Deploying robotic probes is more cost effective and in many cases the only technologically viable option to explore distant celestial bodies. Robots can now work side-by-side with astronauts, complete repetitive and menial tasks or work in environments where the hazard for humans is too great. The University Rover Challenge (URC) is a prestigious international robotics competition for university students, organised by the Mars Society and takes place at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah, USA. The goal is to design and develop a next generation Mars rover vehicle that would be capable of assisting astronauts on the surface with various degrees of autonomy. This robotic platform needs to be able to complete several tasks that test its ability to assist astronauts and offload simple or dangerous tasks so that they can focus on scientific exploration. The geographical setting of the competition aims to replicate the extreme environmental conditions of Mars on Earth. Difficult terrain, dust, heat and communication without direct line-of-sight are just some of the challenges the final system has to cope with.