The European Rover Challenge Mars rover competition, which took place in Kielce, ended with the victory of the Polish team of AGH Space Systems. The next places on the podium were taken by two teams from Switzerland. – It is thanks to a well-coordinated team acting as one organism that we managed to win – says Jakub Kopeć, chairman of the AGH Space Systems scientific club.
On September 15-17, the European Rover Challenge Mars rover competition took place at the Kielce University of Technology in Kielce. We visited them as part of the “Science is a Polish specialty” series.
AGH students won the European Rover Challenge. Their Mars rover was the best again
This year’s 9th edition of the European Rover Challenge 2023 was won by the AGH Space Systems team created by students from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. This is the next time when the Krakow team and their rover “Kalman” stood on the highest step of the European Rover Challenge podium.
“We took 1st place overall! We are not only European champions, but also autonomy champions, because the judges awarded us an additional Best Performance award in Navigation Task,” wrote the Krakow team on social media, also referring to the distinction in one of the four competitions of the competition. In the Navigation Task, the rover was checked for its ability to move autonomously within a designated area.
“This is the result of many months of hard work by our team, many hours spent in the lab, many lost screws and many lines of code written. It’s an amazing feeling to stand on the top step of the podium for the second year in a row,” say the competition winners.
The team created by members of the AGH Space Systems scientific club competed in the finals with 24 other teams from 12 countries around the world.
– Competitions are always difficult, this is the ultimate test for our rover. No matter how well we prepare, we can never predict everything, Jakub Kopeć, chairman of the AGH Space Systems research club, told “Wprost”. – It was thanks to a well-coordinated team working as one organism that we managed to win – he added.
“There were emotions until the very end”
The video published by the organizers from the last day of the competition shows the extraordinary joy of the winning team members after learning about their victory. This is all because the competitors of the Polish team also coped with the tasks very well and it was not known who would win until the end.
– Was there a surprise? There is always some, emphasizes Jakub Kopeć. – We knew that we did everything we could, that we couldn’t do better, but you never know how other teams will perform. That’s why there were emotions until the very end, which was visible in our joy after the results were announced – he points out.
The team from the AGH University of Science and Technology has had numerous successes in other Mars rover competitions. This year, with “Kalman”, they took first place at the International Rover Challenge 2023 in India and first place during the Canadian International Rover Challenge 2023 in Canada.
The second Polish team just behind the podium of the competition
The AGH Space Systems team scored a total of 1,526.1 points in all competitions. Second and third places were taken by teams from Switzerland, FHNW Rover Team with a score of 1,430.3 points and EPFL Xplore with a score of 1,082.6 points.
Just behind the podium was the second Polish team, SKA Robotics from the Warsaw University of Technology with the Sirius II rover. The Warsaw team scored 1025.3 points. The next places were taken by the Frankfurt Robotics Science Team (FRoST) from Germany, ITU Rover Team from Turkey, Beyond Robotics from Greece, DIANA from Italy, ProjectRED from Italy and DJS Antariksh from India.
In addition to the competition taking place on-site in Kielce, the European Rover Challenge 2023 also included a remote competition, in which teams perform tasks using a rover provided by the organizers, controlling it via the Internet. This formula was introduced in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and remained as a separate formula in subsequent editions of the competition.
This year, the Makercie team from the Netherlands took first place in the remote formula. Also on the podium were DJS Antariksh from India and ProjectRED from Italy.