Lessons learned from the York University Rover Team (YURT) at the University Rover Challenge 2008–2009

Post, Mark and Lee, Regina (2011) Lessons learned from the York University Rover Team (YURT) at the University Rover Challenge 2008–2009. Acta Astronautica, 68 (7-8). 1343–1352. ISSN 0094-5765

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Abstract

In this paper, we explore the lessons learned from the work of the York University Rover Team, which designed, built, and operated prototype rovers for the University Rover Challenge 2008 and 2009, placing third in the first year, and winning first place in the second year. We outline the competition and the team with a brief description of the York University space engineering program. The design of the rover is described with emphasis on the technical challenges of engineering a reliable system. Also, the value of this project as an educational medium is evaluated with respect to traditional classroom learning. The University Rover Challenge 2008 took place in June 2008, at the Mars Research Desert Station (MDRS) near Hanksville, Utah. Under a simulated Martian environment, competing teams remotely performed four mission critical tasks using one remotely-operated robotic system (a rover) of maximum 50kg mass. The competition was continued in June 2009, with some changes to the tasks and requirements. This is one of several engineering projects aimed at providing experiential education to engage science and engineering students through hands-on experience. With participating students from wide range of disciplines, the project proved to be an inter-disciplinary, cooperative educational tool.