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Interplanetar, BUET Mars Rover team reaches the finals of European Rover Challenge 2020

  • Published at 07:51 pm August 25th, 2020
Photo: Courtesy

Team Interplanater is one of the two teams from Bangladesh that have been selected for the final round of ERC 2020.

The world of space technology is one of intense engineering development with the potential to bring huge benefits to life on Earth. That is why Team Interplanetar, from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), is proud to dedicate themselves to researching the use of space technology for the technological advancement of the nation.

Team Interplanater from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology has been representing Bangladesh in different Mars Rover competitions around the world since 2011. Five different groups (Electrical & Communication, Mechanical, Software, Science, and Nontechnical)  of Team Interplanater have been working consistently to make the country proud on the international platform. Their vision is to participate in, and win, international rover challenges across the globe. Team Interplanater has participated in many rover competitions around the world such as ERC-2015, ERC 2019, URC (University Rover Challenge) 2016, IRDC (Indian Rover Design Challenge) 2020. Very recently, they participated in IRDC 2020 and secured the 11th position worldwide. This year Team Interplanater is participating in the European Rover Challenge 2020. Team Interplanater is one of the two teams from Bangladesh that have been selected for the final round of ERC 2020.

The European Rover Challenge is the biggest robotics and space event in Europe, addressed to the world of science and business, the new technologies sector as well as the general public. The European Rover Challenge, like the University Rover Challenge, is a part of the Rover Challenge Series -- the most prestigious robotics competitions in the world. The core of ERC is an international Martian robot competition (so-called Mars rover analogs) attended by students, graduates, and researchers from universities around the world. The teams consist of several people who work hard on a fully functional next-generation Mars robot. Each team includes specialists in mechatronics, automation, robotics, autonomy, connectivity, and navigation. European Rover Challenge (ERC), is a competition about building an autonomous travel vehicle capable of doing scientific tasks like soil testing, collecting atmospheric data, etc.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, full competition will function remotely. The ERC 2020 organizer committee has published the guidelines for the final round. For the final round, the team will have to remotely operate a fully functional rover in Poland from Bangladesh. There are mainly four tasks which we will have to perform: Science, navigation, maintenance, and presentation. The science part will involve performing a comprehensive analysis of the biological, geological, and chemical aspects of a given area and search for life in our neighbouring planet. We have to navigate the rover safely through a manmade Martian surface in Poland. We have to traverse the Mars Yard and perform both Science and Navigation tasks together. We have developed the algorithms and simulated the required tasks. We have developed the algorithm by which the rover can autonomously navigate itself, avoiding the obstacles using artificial intelligence and detect markers and objects. The autonomous system developed by our software and maintenance group has created a closed-loop scenario, where various sensors of the rover communicate with each other to control the rover. Our team has developed control solutions for complex systems (such as robotic arms) to improve accuracy and usability. We have to perform a presentation online about the scientific and engineering approach we have taken for the final round.  We are working hard to perform our best in the ERC 2020, and we believe we shall be able to uphold the name of our country proudly in this international platform. 

Our respected supervisor of the Team Interplanater, Dr Md Ashiqur Rahman, has said: ''I have been with Team Interplanetar for the past few years as a teacher and advisor. The active members of this team have changed over time, but one thing that hasn't changed is that it has always been a group of talented, enthusiastic, and hardworking students. Despite its limitations, the members of the team have done a wonderful job with their passion, hard work, and perseverance -- a testament to the success of the world's most prestigious rover design competitions. Team Interplanetar has made BUET famous in the world. Again, it has made the name of our country fulgent in the world. I believe they can do better if they get the necessary support. The kind of technology they work with is the future."

The journey of Team Interplanetar could have never been possible without our valuable sponsors. Where we are today is because of their continuous support. They were always there for us whenever we needed.  We are grateful for the support & funds from our present sponsors --  ICT Division, Bangladesh and Ankur International. We would also like to thank our sponsors -- Blue Ribbon Association, Noor Trade Electronics, Forum 86 BUET, and BUET Alumni Association for believing in us from the very beginning.