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Sooner Rover Heads to Utah for University Rover Challenge

OU Students Create Rover for Mars Exploration

OU students designed and built a rover that could be of use to early explorers on Mars for a national robotics competition.

The Sooner Rover, named SAMMI or Sooner Aided Mobile Mars Inquirer, is one of 36 robots from 10 different countries to be selected to compete in the University Rover Challenge. The competition challenges the best and brightest students from around the world to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers, sophisticated enough to work alongside human explorers and perform intricate tasks in a harsh landscape. 

The Sonner Rover team, made up of 25-30 students from 10 different enginnering and science-related majors, designed SAMMI and traveled to Utah this summer to compete against the top university rovers as a finalist in the challenge. Winners of the competition receive a cash prize and a trip to present their rover at the annual International Mars Society Convention.


Rover on the South Oval


The competition will test the Sooner Rover Team's design and innovation. Finalists will compete in four challenging competitions: the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, the Equipment Servicing Task, the Autonomous Traversal Task, and the Science Cache Task.

With these tasks, climbing over boulder fields, and sttep cliffs is the easiest part. The Rover must also be able to analyze geological samples for life, and perform extremely dextarious tasks in the Equipment Servicing Mission. Last year, this mission required rovers to tow a wagon carrying a fuel canister to a generator, filling up the fuel tank, swapping the regualtor on a gas cyliners, and starting the generator by pressing a button.  


Rover on the South Oval


This is the second consecutive year the Sooner Rover has competed in the URC. Construction of the 2018 rover began with testing and solving problems that last year’s rover experienced during the competition. These tests lead the team to reduce the rover’s weight by 30% in order to allow better maneuverability and driving performance. The rover is also equipped with a drill and vacuum for collecting test samples, as well as U-shaped claws used to grip handles, flip switches and press buttons.

   With these changes, the Sooner Rover Team improved from last year, earning a score of 191.31 and placing 23rd against the top college rover teams in the country. 


Rover on the South Oval