WVU robotics team wins international competition

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 5:35 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - The West Virginia University robotics team recently won an international competition.

Team Mountaineers faced off against dozens of other teams from 10 countries in a competition to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers during the 2023 University Rover Challenge.

The challenge was held May 31-June 3 at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah.

“Each team competed in the System Acceptance Review and four missions including equipment servicing, extreme delivery, science, and autonomy for 100 points each,” explained Yu Gu, team faculty adviser and mechanical and aerospace engineering associate professor. “This is the second time for WVU to compete in Utah with Team Mountaineers showing outstanding leadership, teamwork and technical skills.”

The student-led, cross-disciplinary team is comprised of more than 75 undergraduate students and five graduate student mentors from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

The following are the 11 members of the robotics team who made the trip to Utah:

  • Stephen Jacobs, team lead and graduate student
  • Robert Cook
  • Daniel McDonald
  • Eamonn Payton
  • Spencer Regnier
  • Kendra Gillo
  • Michael Lemon
  • Riley McAllister
  • Malik Mukdadi
  • Shubh Patel
  • Zachary Waddell

“Last year, we learned a huge amount,” Jacobs said. “Before going to finals, we only had pictures of the terrain and competition elements to base our design and strategy. This year, we used our firsthand experience to greatly improve our rover and past experiences also taught us that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. We spent many hours anticipating, fixing and mitigating problems and it paid off in the end.”

In addition to winning the overall competition, the WVU robotics team received top scoring in several categories.

The team received a perfect score in the Science Mission which involved collecting soil samples for life detection and came in first in the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Mission by traveling a long distance over complex terrain with the manipulation of irregular objects.

The team also scored the second highest score in the System Acceptance Review and the Equipment Servicing Mission.

“This win is also the fruit of six years of hard work by hundreds of WVU students, including those who are currently here and who have graduated, those who have been to Utah and who have stayed back, those who boldly proposed new ideas and those who were quietly making sure everything worked perfectly,” Gu said.