– short for Expeditionary Lightweight Extraction Collection Transportation Rover Assistant – is the first rover of STAR Dresden for the ERC – European Rover Challenge.
The ERC is a competition for teams from all over the world. Designed for student groups, it offers young engineers and scientists the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. The teams' goal is to develop "Mars" rovers, which will have to perform several predefined tasks at the annual event held in Poland. The ERC 2020 will take place from 10 to 13 September in Kielce on the campus of „Politechnika Świętokrzyska w Kielcach“.
The competition basically consists of four tasks that a rover must be able to complete. The entire testing of the rover takes place in the ERC test field, which is being set up especially for the competition. This 40 by 40 m area is modelled on Mars, the classic environment when you think of "rovers".
The spirit of research and discovery is what motivates and drives us. Therefore, as with the real Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity, the scientific task is our first priority. Our rover should be able to collect and analyse soil samples. The aim is to collect surface samples as well as samples from a depth of up to 30 cm. The soil samples must then be safely stowed away and analysed in advance on board the rover.
Other than the great models already on Mars, our rover is also developed for the assumption that humans colonize Mars. Thus ELECTRA should be able to support humans in their work on Mars and to carry out work that could be too dangerous for humans. The concrete task is to work on a control panel with buttons, switches and other electrical components.
Like the best friend of man, ELECTRA should also be able to retrieve. For this task the rover has to find samples, which represent sensitive equipment. These have to be found, collected and transported to the delivery point, all with highest precision and care.
In the difficult and undeveloped terrain of Mars, mobility plays a decisive role. Therefore, this aspect is also taken into account by the ERC. ELECTRA should cross the "obstacle course" of Mars as autonomously as possible. For this purpose, the rover is to be equipped with a robust differential and 360° steering.
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Through the Leibniz-Institute of Polymer Research Dresden we have the possibility to manufacture the structure of our rover to a large extent from carbon fiber using the TFP (Tailored Fiber Placement) process developed there. As a result, we attach great importance to the principles of lightweight construction in development: Processing of lightweight materials, design optimization of structures and multifunctional components.