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Martian ‘Scorpio’. New rover from Wrocław University of Technology

The OFF-ROAD scientific association of the Wrocław University of Technology has been building rovers since 2009. Its students’ constructions have been competing in the international arena since 2013 as part of the Scorpio project. In their first season of rivalry, their rover took second place in the prestigious University Rover Challenge competition in the USA. [1]

The following years witnessed a string of successes in similar events organized around the world. The team will enter next year’s competition even stronger. Tuesday, 21st November, saw the presentation of the next generation rover — Scorpio 8 Infinity.

Scorpio Infinity — new challenges, new design

The new vehicle is a carbon fiber and aluminum construction. 3D printers produced the connecting elements. As one with the scientific instruments, it weighs 40 kg and can accelerate to 10 km/h.

“Among other things, Scorpio is capable of examining the composition of the soil, mapping the space around it and autonomously mapping its route or helping the ‘astronauts’, e.g., by transporting various objects or making repairs using a manipulator (i.e., a mechanical ‘hand’)” — tells us Wrocław University of Technology website [2].

Compared to the previous version, the robotic arm was moved from the front to the center of the vehicle in Infinity. This translated into a greater range of movement and easier operation for the operator. The mast was moved to the rear of the vehicle, along with the camera on it. [2]

The new rover has a modular design, which allows the vehicle to be better adapted to individual competitors. These change regularly, evaluating a range of capabilities needed in space. One example is the precise manipulation of changing fuses and pressing buttons during a simulated lunar base repair. [3] It took a year to build the structure and develop the necessary software.

OFF-ROAD Club’s international reputation supports Polish science and business

The Scientific Club of Unconventional Vehicles “OFF-ROAD” is one of the most recognizable associations of its kind in the country. 

For years, it has been primarily associated with rovers, but its members also have to their credit the Twardovsky Martian colony project or the Martian lander. It is capable of delivering up to 10 tonnes of cargo to the surface of the Red Planet. Both took second place in the international competitions at which they were presented. Both events were co-organized by NASA.

“Project Scorpio is a bit like an institution at our university. “It ‘crosses’ the whole university, i.e., if you look at the composition of the circle, you see male and female students from almost all faculties. It’s such an interdisciplinary challenge to design and construct a rover that can measure up to other top designs. And they are coming out great! It’s one of those circles where, when the students come back from the competition with a bag of medals, I just pay for their excess baggage on the plane. And I don’t even complain” joked Piotr Górski, PWr Vice-Rector for Student Affairs, during the premiere.

Competing in international rover challenges allows the promotion of Polish science, especially the space sector, which has been developing rapidly in recent years. It is also an opportunity to exchange experience and draw inspiration “first-hand” while observing the struggles of other teams from around the world.

Bibliography:

[1] Website of Scorpio — a project of the OFF-ROAD Scientific Club, https://www.scorpio.pwr.edu.pl/, (accessed 27.11.2023).

[2] The new rover was officially unveiled! Behold Scorpio Infinity, Wrocław University of Technology website, https://pwr.edu.pl/uczelnia/aktualnosci/nowy-lazik-oficjalnie-zaprezentowany-oto-scorpio-infinity-zdjecia-13115.html, (accessed 27.11.2023)

[3] Scorpio the best in Turkey! Our students’ rover with 8 awards, Wrocław University of Technology website, https://pwr.edu.pl/uczelnia/aktualnosci/scorpio-najlepszy-w-turcji-lazik-naszych-studentow-z-8-nagrodami-13002.html (accessed 28.11.2023)

Marcin Szałaj
Bio:
Absolwent kognitywistyki na Uniwersytecie Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej w Lublinie. Dziennikarz i copywriter, który od lat na bieżąco śledzi wszystkie doniesienia ze świata nauki i działa na rzecz jej popularyzacji.
Written by:

Marcin Szałaj

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