Carbon Fibre Tubes are delighted to announce their sponsorship of an engineering innovation challenge being undertaken by a local team – the University of Southampton’s Mars Rover robot – Pegasus 3.0
Every year, universities from all over the world take part in the world-renowned University Rover Challenge, at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. The teams must design and build a robot to be tested and judged on their ability to perform a variety of missions and tasks.
The competition consists of 4 events:
- Science task. In this event soil and rock samples must be analysed in 6 different sites to determine if life is present in these sites.
- Extreme retrieval and delivery task. The rover will be required to pick up and deliver objects in the field and deliver assistance to “astronauts”.
- Equipment servicing task. The rover will be required to perform dexterous operations.
- Autonomous traversal. The rover will need to autonomously traverse between markers.
Miguel Fuentes from University of Southampton initially contacted Carbon Fibre Tubes Ltd and explained a bit about the challenge ahead:
We are a group of final year degree students who are currently continuing the development of a Mars Rover for our Group Design Project. Last year, the team of students were the first in the UK to qualify and compete in the University Rover Challenge, the world’s largest premier robotic competition for students organised by The Mars Society and held at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, USA. In this event, teams composed by university students from all over the world compete in a set of events to determine which robot is the most capable of performing tasks similar to the ones a real Mars rover would need to complete in real life scenarios.
Seeking to capitalise on the strong performance of the 2018 Pegasus robot, the team are keen to return the 2019 URC finals in Utah and compete at an even higher level. In order to do this they sought CFT’s advice on the use of composites:
In order to improve the suspension design of our rover, this year we were exploring the possibility of using standard carbon fibre tubing. This would replace our previous heavy steel plate suspension, and would give us an edge in the competition.
The previous robot (Pegasus 2.0) was based on a rocker-bogie suspension with a bevel gear differential. The bevel gear differential connects both sides of the rover, translating the motion from one side to the other one and ensuring the chassis remains parallel to the ground and stable. However, due to wear and transportation, the differential saw some damage and is no longer working. The University team were delighted that Carbon Fibre Tubes Ltd was not only able to advise on the technical specification required but also produce these tubes for the project. As a result of Carbon Fibre Tubes Ltd sponsorship, Pegasus 3.0 will still be based on a rocker-bogie suspension but now have carbon fibre tube suspension with inserts made out SLS graphite reinforced nylon. This will provide the necessary robustness the system needs, while reducing the weight of the suspension legs significantly. The differential will be composed of a pivoting aluminium part attached to the underfloor of the chassis. Both sides of the differential bar will be connected to the rocker inserts by a control arm. This results in a translation of vertical and horizontal motion from one side of the rover to the other as the rover clears obstacles.
Carbon Fibre Tubes Ltd looks forward to tracking the progress of this exciting innovation project, and wish the team every success in 2019.
You can read more about the team’s progress on the University website or follow them on facebook.