Mars Rover Design Team unveils robot

A large crowd gathered in the Havener Center at Missouri University of Science and Technology Friday afternoon for the grand unveiling of the Mars Rover Team’s latest rover.

Forty students from across all majors at Missouri S&T have been working together to design, construct, and perfect a rover that will be taken to the Mars Society's University Rover Challenge at the end of May in Utah.

The winner of the challenge will take its rover to the 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention in mid-August at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The team was given the task of building a robot able to complete four tasks which, in the past, have included collecting samples, delivering a payload, surveying an area, and operating switches and dials. The budget could not go over $15,000.

The team has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last year. There is no comparison between the team’s latest rover and the robot they built last year as a team-building exercise. The first version’s controller has wires contecting the robot to a packing box with control buttons popping through. The version unveiled Friday afternoon at the Havener Center is controlled by wifi which can span a 1 kilometer distance.

Sarah Ward, a junior civil engineering major, explained the group met las year in the basement of one of the residence halls to form the rover team and put together the first rover, which they named “Steve.” The newest rover has not been named.

The group has 40 active members from a variety of majors at Missouri S&T who work together on the four main components of the rover including body hydraulics, power supply/propulsion, communications, and auxiliary equipment.

“I think’s it’s gone incredibly,” said Michael Bouchard, a junior majoring in geology and geophysics and the team’s CEO.

He said one of the coolest moments for him was taking a step back during one of the group’s meetings, looking around and seeing about 30 people from 14 different majors working simultaneously to complete the rover.

“It is such an interdisciplinary project.”

The group used Friday’s unveiling as a hard deadline to meet so they didn’t have to worry about hurrying to get the rover complete while simultaneously cramming for finals.

Bouchard said if his team takes one thing away from this project, it is that they should dare to dream.