22.09.23 - Xplore secured a third consecutive podium at the European Rover Challenge 2023. During three days from September 15-17, the team competed with their latest rover, Kerby, and drone, Brokkoly, against other international rover teams at the world's largest Marsyard in Kielce, Poland.
To secure their impressive spot on the podium, the Xplore team put a great effort into making the robotic arm of Kerby fully autonomous with an inverse kinematic system. This allowed the team to perform the maintenance task of the ERC without any manual intervention from the operator, which also earned them the excellence award for the best Maintenance Task overall.
EPFL Xplore is a student-led space robotics project from EPFL, part of the MAKE initiative in Switzerland. Their mission is to leverage project-based learning in the training of engineers at EPFL and to step into the highest level of development and achievement in the field of space robotics, by collaborating with research laboratories and the industry. As part of their project-based learning mission, the students build rovers to participate in international competitions such as the annual European Rover Challenge. The team won the 3rd place overall at the on-site edition of the ERC 2021 and the 2nd place overall one year later at the ERC 2022.
At ERC 2023, There were 35 of the world’s best academic teams from nearly every continent at the finals. For this year's edition, there was both an on-site and remote competition: 20 teams competed on-site, while 15 took part remotely. Organizers created obstacles for the teams to overcome, and in particular, the geological puzzle was so complex that only a few teams were able to solve it. In addition, the terrain also posed challenges for the rovers. Participants also underwent a certification process to prove their knowledge and skills for the first time in competition history. The event also included a meeting with the ESA astronaut Sławosz Uznański, an outdoor cinema, sky observations, and the opportunity to control rovers, drones, and walking robots.
Along with the EPFL Xplore team, another Swiss team, the FHNW Rover Team, made the podium, coming in second. In first place was the Polish team AGH Space Systems.
The next Xplore team now sets off for another year of hard work in preparation for the ERC 2024.