BYU students to compete in Mars rover event in southern Utah desert

A group of BYU students will compete this weekend with their prototype of the next generation of Mars rovers – the kind designed to support human expeditions to our neighboring planet.

The Mars Society is hosting the first-ever “University Rover Challenge” June 1 -2 at the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah. The BYU rover will go up against vehicles from Penn State, UCLA, Nevada–Reno and Ferris State.

During two events, the BYU driver will guide the rover to remote sites with the aid of 3-D goggles that receive a video feed from twin cameras mounted atop the vehicle. In the scientific task, the BYU team will survey an area for signs of life using the cameras and the rover’s mechanical arm.

For the engineering task, the team will dispatch the rover to a second area and deploy a radio repeater. Teams will earn points if they select a good location, successfully set up the device, and return the rover to the finish gate.

The team with the best overall performance will win a trip to the 10th Annual International Mars Society Convention in September at UCLA. At the convention, the winners will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

BYU junior Carlos Pozo, a mechanical engineering student from Bolivia, has his eyes on a bigger prize: a career designing unmanned vehicles. Pozo’s technical role on the project is the rover’s arm, but he says working with a cross-functional team has been the most rewarding part of the experience. Other team members come from a variety of disciplines, including electrical engineering, computer science, and geology.

The project began last fall when Professor David Allred shared an announcement about the contest in his physics class. Since then he has advised the students on the project and helped them line up sponsorship. Allred is impressed with the rover’s lightweight design.

The students considered what features would be valuable for both the upcoming contest as well as an actual Mars expedition. For example, the breathable canvas cover will help the internal system keep cool in the southern Utah heat and would also protect sensitive parts from the blowing sands of Mars. With cargo space limited on a Mars voyage, the students came up with a design that packs up neatly and requires few spare parts.

Writer: Cecelia Fielding

More Information on This Article

Article Source/Further Information

News and Events

Image for Mystery of Haumea's Formation Solved
BYU Physics and Astronomy student Benjamin Proudfoot recently published research in the prestigious journal Nature Communications that solves the mystery of the icy dwarf planet Haumea's formation.
Image for Capturing Images at the New Mexico Observatory
Students and faculty from theBYU Astronomy and Physics department captured images from space at an observatory in New Mexico to research explaining the evolution of the universe.
Image for Dr. Scott Sommerfeldt Awarded an ASA Silver Medal
Dr. Scott Sommerfeldt awarded the Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America for work in active noise control
Image for Sabbatical at Cambridge for Dr. Gus Hart
Dr. Hart's sabbatical propels work on new techniques for constructing interatomic potentials
Image for Dr. Steve Turley -NSF Program Officer
Dr. Turley influences the future of physics education during his time as program officer for education division of the National Science Foundation
Image for Planetarium Updates
A new and improved planetarium experience
Image for How Physics Students Thrive in a Pandemic
Ways Students have Adapted to the Pandemic
Image for New Professor Dr. Benjamin Boizelle
Dr. Boizelle brings radio astronomy to the department
Image for Dr. Dennis Della Corte launches Consortium of Molecular Design
Dr. Della Corte's computational biophysics is the heart of the new Consortium of Molecular Design