20 July 2023

The best ones will go to Mars!

25 teams from 12 countries will compete at the European Rover Challenge finals.

This September, 25 of the world’s best student teams will present their rovers in one of the elite robotics competition finals – European Rover Challenge. Among them, on the largest artificial Marsyard in the world, we will see representations of 12 countries. The ERC 2023 program will also include interesting interdisciplinary debates on space exploration and the opportunity to experience state-of-the-art robotic solutions, as well as to drive a rover and perform a task with it on the scale of a real Mars mission.

The ERC jury tasked the participants with requirements similar to those presented by the largest space agencies. The teams presented a very high level during the eliminations and in the end, during the September finals of the competition we will see representatives from as many as 12 countries: Switzerland, Greece, Czech Republic, India, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Bangladesh, Spain, Egypt, Great Britain and Poland. The list of finalists opens with five teams:

  1.  AGH Space Systems (Poland) – 82,67 pts
  2. STAR Dresden e.V. (Germany) – 81,75 pts
  3. Team DIANA (Italy) – 80,75 pts
  4. Frankfurt Robotics Science Team (Germany) – 79,75 pts
  5. Project RED (Italy) – 79,50 pts

The Martian competition is not the only attraction waiting for the visitors of the event. The ERC 2023 program will include interesting interdisciplinary debates on the survival of first astronauts in permanent lunar bases, as well as important topics related to the future of human settlement on the Red Planet and use of space technologies on Earth. At the same time, visitors to the event will be able to see modern robotic solutions and drive a rover performing a task resembling a real Mars mission.

This year’s speakers include: Les Johnson, physicist, award-winning author of science-fiction books and NASA technologist; Alessandro Golkar, professor at MIT and the Technical University of Munich – specialist in Nanosatellites and Satellite Constellations, former Vice President and Head of the Concurrent Design Facility at the Airbus Corporate Technology Office in Toulouse; Maria Antonietta Perino – Director of Space Economy Exploration and International Network at Thales Alenia Space; Shelli Brunswick – Chief Operating Officer of the Space Foundation; Raphael Roettgen of E2MC Ventures, a venture capital fund supporting companies in the space sector and Nico Dettmann – Group Leader for the Development of Lunar Exploration Projects, in the Directorate of Manned and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency’s European Research and Technology Center (ESTEC).

Thanks to broadcasts and social media coverage, the ERC can be joined by audiences from all over the world. Last year’s edition of the event was attended by nearly half a million people from the farthest corners of the globe. This year, the competition will be held from 15 to 17 September and, as in previous years, it will be conducted in two formulas: on-site, in which robots constructed by the teams will take part, and a unique remote formula in which competitors from all over the world will connect remotely. The participants of the remote formula of the competition will be announced in August, after qualifications.

European Rover Challenge is held under the patronage of the European Space Agency and the Polish Space Agency. The event has also been supported over the years by the presence of the astronauts of NASA and heads of robotics departments of ESA, representatives of the European Union Space Program Agency EUSPA, as well as international organizations and space companies.

The co-organizers of this year’s ERC are the European Space Foundation, Kielce University of Technology and Swietokrzyskie Voivodeship. Once again Kielce is the Host City of the event, and the event’s Partners are, among others: Mars Society Poland, Poznan University of Technology, Polish Space Professionals Association, Polish Space Industry Association, Pyramid Games, Pokojowy Patrol and the American corporation MathWorks and RedWire.

The project is partially financed by the “Social Responsibility of Science” program of the Minister of Education and Science.

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