Broadcast 1361 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

10 May 2010 Kevin Sloan
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Guest: Kevin Sloan. Topic: Mars Society University Rover Challenge 2010 June 3-5, 2010. Kevin Sloan returned to tell us about 2010 Mars Society University Rover Challenge (URC). To learn more about it, visit their website at Sign up for their newsletter and URC updates at In our first segment, Kevin described the location for URC which is near Hanksville, Utah where the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is located. Kevin described the four main tasks that the rover teams must successfully accomplish. These include a sample return task, a site survey , an equipment servicing task, and an emergency navigation task. The control room for each robotic team is in a special tent and the only feedback they have with their rovers comes from mounted video cameras and microphones. Kevin explains this and the four tasks in this segment. He also discussed the nine teams that will be competing. You can see the list of teams at Listeners inquired about coming to URC as spectators but Kevin said the site was too remote and they were not set up for visitors/spectators. He did say that there will photos and videos uploaded to the URC website as the challenge is underway. A listener asked about commercial value for the winning rover and Kevin said that for now there were no commercial markets but industry was often present for recruiting and other reasons. In the second segment, Kevin described the Oregon State robotic team with their website video showing the team running their rover the length of a football field running over the football team end to end the length of the field. You can see this video at Kevin said most of the teams were in stealth mode so he was unable to describe for us what the other teams were planning for their rovers. In response to a question about one of the teams from Poland, he said that Polish news has been very interested and focused on the rover teams and they get lots of PR in Poland. In this segment, he also talked about the rover specs and that they were limited to a 50 kg weight. In response to a question from Tim, Kevin said that all teams were required to have a detailed plan costing out the elements of their rover. The NASA Robonaut 2 project came up and Kevin talked about it in comparison to the robots designed by the URC teams. As we began the third segment, Kevin spoke about team sponsorships, space grant support, and support from the team's schools. Kevin told us that there was a $15K cap on the hardware for each team rover. Near the end of this segment, he mentioned that their seems to be less of an interest in the aerospace engineering classes but that NewSpace and some of the space activities has helped to keep certain pockets of engineering interesting to students. If you have questions or comments for Kevin Sloan and the URC, please contact him at



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