College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

MAVRIC takes on University Rover Challenge

The MAVRIC team competed in the 2017 University Rover Challenge held in Hanksville, Utah and organized by the Mars Society. The competition, which took place from June 1-3, featured a record 82 teams from across the world.  

Based on a video submission and report, the URC trims the field to 36 teams that are then invited to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the southern desert of Utah. MAVRIC was one of the 36 teams invited to compete in Utah. High temperatures, dust and sand were just a few of the elements the teams and their rovers had to deal with as they aimed to complete four tasks: Equipment Servicing, Science Cache, and new this year was the Extreme Delivery and Traversal and a fully autonomous mode task.  

The MAVRIC team at the MDRS Habitat.

The MAVRIC team faced many challenges upon arrival to the MDRS. Electrical issues caused a problem with control of the arm on the first task which was the Extreme Delivery and Traversal task. After the team debugged many of the issues, they competed the next day in the Equipment Servicing task only to have an electrical short that disabled the rover shortly into the task. On the final day, the team was able to compete in the Science Cache task only to have another problem with the rovers drive motors. The team was able to compete to the end, but the electrical issues resulted in a final score of 146.6 points and put them at 31st place.  

“The MAVRIC team learned a lot from this experience and they worked very hard on the rover, often working through the night to make repairs to the rover.” said Matthew Nelson, Make to Innovate Director and also accompanied the team on the trip.

Nelson also stated that the extreme environment in the desert often causes electrical systems to fail. The team is currently planning on a new design for the rover that can compete in the URC in 2018.