Kielce space dudes rocket into first place in international Mars rover comp
Poland’s Mars Rover Kielce Impuls team has won the 2019 University Rover Challenge (URC) in Utah, United States.
The winning students from Kielce’s University of Technolody were among eight Polish teams taking part in the annual robotics tournament, recognised as being the most renowned University-level competition for designing and building robots that will one day work alongside humans.
Comprising of five different tasks, including search and rescue, science mission, extreme retrieval and delivery mission, equipment servicing and autonomous traversal, the Kielce team sailed into first place with 362.87 points, well ahead of Canadian runners up, Ryerson Rams Robotics, which got 329.51 points.
The delighted team posted on Facebook: “We finished the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Mission with 80/100 points. There was a lot going on, our rover even found itself in the middle of a small whirlwind during the competition, but the most emotional moment was caused by operator Szczepan Kostecki, who became famous for the fastest package delivery to the astronaut.
“Descending from a hill, picking up the box and driving to the top, and finally placing it at a 5 cm distance from the astronaut - he made in the last four minutes of the competition and ended 7 seconds before the end of allowed time. We are proud of him!”
PM Mateusz Morawiecki also expressed his pride on Twitter, tweeting: “Big congratulations for the @PolitechnikSw team - the University Rover Challenge winners. Their Mars rover defeated the construction of Ryerson and Stanford Universities and 80 others from 13 countries. This is another confirmation of the potential hidden in Polish science and economy.”
The University Rover Challenge was launched in 2006. To emulate the harsh extra-terrestrial conditions, the robots are tested on the mountainous desert at the Mars Desert Research Station, outside Hanksville. The challenges put before the students are similar to the real life tasks of rovers such as Curiosity and Opportunity.
Polish teams from Kielce, Częstochowa, Rzeszów, Wrocław and Białystok have dominated the competitions for years. Since 2013, only once did a team from a different country (Missouri University of Science and Technology) manage to win the URC.