Jacob graduated from Bath with an MEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering with placement and now works as a Systems Engineer at QinetiQ.
Author: Jacob Simms
UKSEDS is a national student society that provide resources and activities for students with an interest in space and space-related careers. One activity is the Olympus Rover Trials in which teams must design, build a small Mars Rover and compete over a two-day event. The rovers typically are slightly bigger than a shoebox, weigh about 5kg and are controlled by a Raspberry Pi based architecture.
Team Bath Roving (affiliated with Bath SpaceSoc) has a longstanding presence at the competition. We won the competition in 2019, and entered every year since it started. This year, Bath entered two teams: the official SpaceSoc TBRo team, and I also entered as an individual entry with my final-year project. And we had a fantastic result coming both first and second, with Team Bath winning for the second in-person competition in a row!
Two days of intense testing
The competition is composed of two stages. The first day is the test day where teams must traverse the Mars Yard test facility at Airbus, and collect a series of cannisters. In this task, the TBRo entry performed exceptionally well, and both Bath rovers showed some of the best off-road mobility, software solutions and cannister collecting payload solutions of the competition. Day two involves a vibration test at RAL Space, designed to test the rover’s durability against the extreme vibration environments of a rocket launch. Typically, this test is very punishing to the often 3D-printed rovers, but once again the two Bath rovers came out on top as the only two to survive completely unscathed. Every other competitor suffered a catastrophic failure.
How to get involved
Overall, we are delighted with the Rover’s performance this year, but there is still plenty of room for improvement next year! The project is broadly a robotics project so requires mechanical, electronic and software skills, but it is not limited to people studying this at university. Anyone can get involved and develop skills in these fields, there are jobs for everyone! Likewise, don’t be afraid to get involved as a first year as there are a wide range of tasks to get stuck into, most of which don’t need final-year knowledge. To get involved, stay tuned to the Space Society (SpaceSoc) as they will be doing kick-off meetings for the project shortly.
Finally, as a personal note from me, a massive thank you to the Mechanical Engineering Department for their support of my project, and congratulations to the PM Kyle and the rest of TBRo for winning this year's competition. As a founding member of the society and involved with TBRo since day one, its great to know the team is in safe hands!