Bangladesh’s IUT Mars Rover team ranks 10th at ERC 2021

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The IUT Vice-Chancellor congratulates the team on their success at ERC 2021. Photos: Courtesy

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The IUT Vice-Chancellor congratulates the team on their success at ERC 2021. Photos: Courtesy

The European Rover Challenge (ERC) is a prestigious space and robotics event combining international competitions for mobile robots and science and technology fairs. Considered to be the largest robotics and space event in Europe, the ERC is also the meeting place for representatives of the European scientific and economic world interested in the use of space and robotics technologies.

The ERC mainly features an international Martian Robot Competition, where academic teams from around the world showcase their mobile robot designs, participating in competitions based on real ESA and NASA missions. The event is held on the world’s largest man-made Martian track, which is directly derived from the surface of the planet. The ERC 2021 competition took place both on-site and remotely, where competitors remotely controlled the robot, while physically moving it along a track in Poland.

The rover used by the team at IRC 2019, where they were second.

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The rover used by the team at IRC 2019, where they were second.

The ERC is open to all student teams from around the world. During the competition, each team had to submit a preliminary documentation report in order to proceed to the qualification stage. This report included information on the rover design, team workflow diagram, and team structure. The top 15 teams moved on to the next round. The next round required the teams to perform numerous simulations using specialized software in order to fulfill their responsibilities. Finally, each team presented their findings through an online presentation.

The organizers of the ERC have published several documents with detailed instructions on the tasks that should be performed during field test events and ROS-based simulation environments. There were three road tests for each navigation and maintenance task. During road tests and field tests, the teams downloaded their software to task-specific robots. The software was developed using the simulation environment provided and the quality of the software was judged based on the robot’s ability to perform the subtasks.

This year, the IUT Mars Rover, made up of students from the Islamic Institute of Technology, placed 10th out of 38 international teams. This is the best result for a Bangladeshi team in this competition so far.

While talking about the obstacles encountered by the team, the team emphasized the technical challenges. “We had to work hard to keep the software up to the standard specified by the organizers. The software developed here was run on hardware in Poland. The entire software stack was developed using simulation and this part was really nerve-racking, ”explained Muhammad. Samin Hasan, team leader, IUT Mars Rover.

Additionally, the team also had connectivity issues due to the event going live. “We had problems due to the low bandwidth and our controller was disconnecting from the rover. Network issues also hampered the transfer of program files and it was difficult to communicate with our team members over virtual media, ”explained Muhtasim Mashfy, Director of Management, IUT Mars Rover.

The author is a medical student and freelance journalist who enjoys reading, doodling and blogging. Email: [email protected]


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