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Space Concordia flies to Poland for European Rover Challenge

Space Concordia competed at the European Rover Challenge, an international space and robotics event in Kielce, Poland. Photo courtesy of Space Concordia.

Space Concordia competes in the eighth edition of the European Rover Challenge in Poland

Last weekend, Space Concordia (SC) competed in the 2022 edition of the European Rover Challenge (ERC), an international space and robotics event based on real-life scenarios from European Space Agency and NASA missions. The event is centred around technological developments for space exploration, the ultimate goal of the ERC being to eventually become a benchmark and test trial for planetary robotic activities. 

The competition allows teams from all over the world to present their mobile robot designs and compete against each other. 

SC is dedicated to the development of space technology and is organized into four divisions: robotics, rocketry, spacecraft and space health. The student organization was founded in 2010 and has since grown to over 150 members at Concordia.

From Sept. 9 to 11, the Robotics team travelled to Kielce, Poland, to test out its own Rover robot in a Martian-like environment.

This year’s ERC was held on the world’s largest artificial Martian track in the Kielce University of Technology. Eleven people from Space Concordia joined the competition in-person. 

The team ran into some complications that limited the amount of time they had to assemble the Rover. This prevented the team from completing one of the four tasks they had set out to do: navigation, maintenance, science and collection and probing. 

“The assembly was frantic but we did it,” said Philippe Fernie, mechanical co-lead for the Robotics team. “We got the Rover at three o’clock on Friday which was the first day of competition and everyone got together to assemble it. We got it done within four hours, which is very fast.” 

The team still managed to go through three of the ERC challenges. The various tasks included trying out a hypothesis they wanted to test in a Martian environment and manoeuvring the Rover to put probes into the soil and scoop out dirt to conduct some tests. These exercises allowed the robotics team to practice with their Rover in real-life conditions. 

“It really helped the team too, I think, to see if the Rover could actually perform the tasks and be out in an actual competition environment rather than just seeing it go around the University,” said William Wells, the technical lead and software co-lead from the Robotics team. 

Wells explained that each year, the ERC changes the artificial Martian track to model a different type of location on Mars. 

“This year it was a volcanic location […] it was really cool to actually see it and get to put a Rover out there and drive around,” Wells said.

After the stress of the competition, the team is tired yet happy to have had the opportunity to attend the ERC and practice their skills. 

“It was an incredible experience actually getting to go to a competition in person because most of us on the team never got to go to an in-person competition since the pandemic,” said Wells.

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