OSU gets serious cash after winning mars rover competition.

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend, this close to the end of the school year. Let’s get back to it with some news from around the state.

A company called Atmel corporation has joined the ranks of sponsors for OSU’s Mars rover program, after winning the 2010 University Rover Challenge, by the Mars Society. This means OSU has big bucks and their program is going to flourish.

image of 2010 OSURC team

Here's the photo of the team who won the University Rover Challenge. Nice hat, guy over on the side.

You might have heard that OSU is a great school if you want to be an engineer. And there’s a reason for that–they have all sorts of engineering programs, like formula one car racing, offroad racing, robotics and even greengineering things like alternative power research. And believe it or not, they’ve got this mars rover program too—and so many others which we’ll talk about later. Right now, it’s all about the Mars rovers baby.

It’s a pretty small team, compared to some of OSU’s other engineering groups, but these folks are dedicated. Each one of them either designs the body, works on a specific part of its construction, or does some work programming the rover. And after some jeeplike previous designs it looks like the team has settled on the interesting six-wheel one you see in that photo. Six wheels gets around better, too.

The team built their rover with a Garmin GPS, something like what you might use to navigate in your car. Except, you know, if you were driving on Mars. Atmel is the company who manufactures the microcontrollers which the team uses—all the pieces of computer that control everything.

Check out this video, from their entry into the 2010 competition:

Lots of epic music, but seeing a simulation of the rover towards the end is pretty cool.

One thing all of OSU’s teams seem to do is take their work seriously, but have a great time doing it. And the Mars rover team has a pretty extensive photo gallery to prove it. (Keep an eye out for the guy in the awesome hat.) My favorite gallery is from the 2010 competition.

Almost forgot to mention the simulator the rover team has on their website. Uses the Unity engine, which some hobbyist game programmers might know (and programmers who want to get into 3d game design should look in to). Check out the mars rover simulator!

Read what I read


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