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What is project Marsworks and welcome to the team

The European Space Agency (ESA) is hosting a competition to design a reduced size Mars rover in their European Rover challenge (ERC) in September this year in Poland.

The competition is international and has teams from many other universities competing. There are 4 tasks which the rover must complete:

  1. a traversal task where the rover must get from A to B autonomously and map its route
  2. a science task where we must take and store multiple samples on board the rover and do in situ tests on the samples
  3. a maintenance task where we must operate an electrical switch panel and measure voltages
  4. and a collection task where we must find and store cache which is placed at specified coordinates.

The team consists of just under 30 members from different engineering backgrounds from the University of Sheffield where we meet bi-weekly to organise the construction of the project. The rover we create must follow strict guidelines which can be found on the ERC website.

The basis of the rover is that it must weigh under 50kg and fit in a cylinder with a radius of 0.75m when everything is retracted. We can change the rover up between each of the 4 challenges to better optimise it for a task (i.e. changing the robots end effector). We have to make as much of the rover's abilities as autonomous as we can to score more points and the team with the most points wins. There are points for lots of different aspects of the challenges, mainly that of accuracy and safety, but artificial intelligence is a big push this year.

The teams are split up based on peoples disciplines and each sub-team has its own team lead as follows:

Team Leads

Joyce Fontanilla - Project leader. Joyce is our one true leader who makes sure all is going to plan. As a chemical engineer, she is a busy person and can be often seen going many days without sleep to ensure the project’s success.

Joe Orford - Electrical team lead. Living by the fact that any machine is a smoke machine if you use it badly enough, Joe sure does like to push the boundaries with electronics, with a risk assessment of course. An electrical engineer by trade, Joe is coordinating the electronics team for the project and loves the idea of modularity and relishes the opportunity to design a PCB.

Joseph Cullingford - Mechanical team lead. A general engineer by trade, Joseph is a man of many skills but has focused in on his electro-mechanical abilities and is also designing our drill system himself. As a local representative at our iForge makerspace, he allows for us to use the iForge for meetings at the weekends and special treatment as a project.

Henry O'keefe - Systems team lead. Helping to link everybody's technical aspects together in the project, Henry is our most eccentric team member. Trained in all things mechanical and electronics based he is a go-to member when it comes to problem-solving, although without Joyce there I'm not sure our budget would be safe from nice drill bits.

Luke Bently-Fox - Software team lead. Some say he looks like Jesus, others say he might as well be with the software miracles he performs. Luke coordinates the software team and ensures all the artificial intelligence and communications systems are combined into one nice GUI which is all operated by the humble XBOX one remote controller.

Benjamin Griffiths - Robot arm design. Electronics is his discipline, but the sky is the limit for Ben and his abilities, or more his 0.75m radius cylinder our rover must fit in is his limits for now, but that doesn't hinder Ben and his robot arm abilities. Ben oversees designing and building the robot arm with interchangeable end effectors for the robot that will complete tasks in the competition. 

Further articles coming soon on our progress and follow-ups as to future progress will be updated on the DesignSpark community page and we hope you follow our progress along the way.

Follow us on Facebook for updates.

We are team Marsworks! We are looking to create a Mars rover to take part in the European Rover Challenge in September this year. We are team of just under 30 talented engineers from Sheffield University comprised of many course disciplines We will be uploading our progress to the RS DesignSpark community over the coming months and hope you enjoy our journey with us Find out more info on the competition here:

13 Mar 2019, 9:32


April 9, 2019 07:58

Wishing you guys the best of luck! Hope to the final rover soon!

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March 27, 2019 11:36

Looks great! I'm looking forward to seeing the progress of the build!

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