The 9th edition of the prestigious European Rover Challenge space robotics competition has concluded this Sunday. After intense competition on the world’s largest artificial Marsyard, team AGH Space Systems emerged as the best robotic team, meeting the rigorous demands of the jury. Two teams from Switzerland won second and third place: FHNW Rover Team and EPFL Xplore. For the first time, participants underwent a certification process confirming their knowledge and skills. The exciting rivalry of teams from around the world was accompanied by numerous attractions and surprises: a meeting with the ESA astronaut Sławosz Uznański, an outdoor cinema, sky observations, and the opportunity to control rovers, drones, and walking robots.
Top Teams: A Global Showcase
35 of the world’s best academic teams from almost all continents participated in the finals. This year’s edition took place in two formulas: 20 teams competed on-site, while 15 took part remotely from the farthest corners of the globe. The competition took place on the surface which was inspired by a fragment of the Martian landscape, and the teams had to meet the challenges faced by engineers of real Martian missions. The tasks prepared by the organizers posed significant obstacles for the teams this year. The geological puzzle turned out to be so complex that only a few teams managed to solve it. Meanwhile, the terrain’s formation caused significant difficulties for the rovers.
First prizes in the competition were awarded to AGH Space Systems from Poland (ON-SITE formula) and Makercie from the Netherlands (REMOTE formula). The following places were taken by the teams: second place: FHNW Rover Team from Switzerland and DJS Antariksh from India and the podium was closed by the teams: EPFL Xplore from Switzerland and ProjectRED from Italy.
The full list of winners of the ERC 2023 is as follows:
For the first time, except for the experience of participating in the unique space project, members of the academic teams could also obtain a formal certificate as part of the “ERC Space & Robotics Industry Standard Practice Programme”, confirming their competence in specific scientific and technological areas. Thanks to this, every member of the participating team could receive a document certifying their knowledge and experience. Like other certificates from the space industry, the ERC document became a formal confirmation of the participant’s substantive contribution to the rover’s construction and their commitment to the project.
Innovative Certification for Participants
Visitors to the 9th edition of the European Rover Challenge, could also experience educational workshops prepared by exhibitors, scientific experiments, and immerse themselves in interactions with robots and space technologies. Meetings with ESA Astronaut Slawosz Uznanski, and Robert Zubrin, an advocate for Mars exploration, attracted great interest. The youngest attendees learned about the Solar System and found out where in the Universe life might exist.
Organisers and Patron
The European Rover Challenge was held under the constant patronage of the European Space Agency and the Polish Space Agency. Co-organizers of ERC 2023 were the European Space Foundation, the Kielce University of Technology, and the Marshal’s Office of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. The City of Kielce once again serves as the Host City of the event, and among the partners, were: Mars Society Poland, ESA BIC Poland / Industrial Development Agency, Poznań University of Technology, Polish Space Professionals Association PSPA, Employers’ Association of the Space Sector, Pyramid Games, Pokojowy Patrol, Poland Convention Bureau, Polish Tourism Organization, as well as the American corporation Mathworks and RedWire.
The project is partially financed by the “Social Responsibility of Science” program of the Minister of Education and Science.
More about the European Rover Challenge can be found: roverchallenge.eu