2018 - Phoebe
This year, we decided to give most of our subsystems a major overhaul. We abandoned the six-wheeled "rocker-bogie" suspension system in favor of a faster system of four independent shocks absorbers and a differential bar. To give us more room for subsystems, we substantially increased the size of the chassis. Additionally, we designed our soil acquisition drill and robotic arm from the ground up, applying lessons learned in past years to produce brand new designs.
With the largest number of programmers in MRover history, we undertook the task of rewriting the entire codebase in the interest of creating a maintaible codebase to use for years to come. This time, instead of using the Robot Operating System, we devloped simpler software more focused on our needs. This included devloping our own simulators to rapidly test code. We also implemented an "edge computing" approach, dividing up computing between many small computers and microcontrollers on the rover.
2017 - Hughey
In 2017, the URC introduced the autonomous navigation task, adding an entirely new dimension to the competition. To test autonomy code without having a fully equipped rover, we used the simulation features of the Robot Operating System.
Mechanically speaking, Hughey was an improved version of the previous model, using a similar chassis and rocker-bogie suspension. Most changes were small adjustments, such as using a carbon-fiber frame instead of an aluminum one. The most significant change was the separation of the soil acquisitions subsystem from the robotic arm. This year, we replaced the large linear actuator on the upper arm with motor and geartrain, completing our transition from linear actuation of the arm.
2016 - Golu Golu
Starting with the designs from the 2015 rover, Golu Golu's mechanical systems innovated on the prior year's in several ways. Golu Golu marked the start of a transition away from a linearly actuated arm, using motors and geartrains for all segments except the first segment. Our software this year was an improved version of the previous year's as well. With Golu Golu's more complex arm, the team had to develop a more advanced control scheme for the robotic arm.
2015 - Grover
Grover featured many designs that would be signatures of MRover for the next few years. The six-wheeled rocker-bogie mechanism allowed the Rover to remain stable on uneven terrain, and the rectangular chassis allowed the electronics to be housed in the back and the subsystems in the front.
With an entirely new set of programmers, it was decided that the previous year's software was outdated and that the best move was to start from scratch. Starting with a simple set of programs for encoding joystick data at the base station and decoding it onboard the rover, our programmers began developing code that would be used in future years and learning lessons in developing a maintainable codebase.