The Olympus Rover Trials challenge student teams to design, construct and operate a rover for an analogue sample return mission to Mars. Students create a rover concept, trade off performance parameters and  pass through a rigorous review process with panels of engineers from the space sector. The competition aims to:  

  1. Challenge students to perform a complex, systems engineering task of the development of a vehicle to a set of real space mission requirements;
  2. Enable students to apply taught technical skills and learn new ones relevant to a job in the space industry in an applicable project environment;
  3. Provide students with an opportunity to develop and practice other important and transferable skills, such as teamwork, leadership and project management;
  4. Foster interest in the activities of the space sector, especially in space engineering and robotics.

Competition history & major changes  

The UKSEDS rover competitions began in 2016 with the Lunar Rover Competition. 14 teams from across  the UK took part, with six competing at the competition day at the RAL Space facility in Harwell. The second edition of the competition saw nine teams attend the competition day.    

In 2018 the competition pivoted to the exploration of Mars, a topic of great interest in the UK and elsewhere. The new location came with a new mission challenge: to retrieve cached samples instead of soil samples. Other key changes included:  

  • A new Test Readiness Review, which has been added several weeks before the competition day, intended to ensure teams are ready to compete
  • A new Team Connect scheme, which enables UKSEDS to matchmake teams with complimentary skillsets to form a collaborative team
  • The competition grant has been split into three; a matched competition grant for components and construction, travel bursaries to help teams travel to the competition and outreach grants
  • A new autonomy prize