Sapienza Technology Team

The Sapienza Technology Team, made up of engineering students from Sapienza University of Rome, has been working with the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering to design and build a Mars rover prototype for the European Rover Challenge (ERC). In the past two years of competing, we've learned a great deal and realized there are many areas where our rover can be improved. Throughout this journey, we've faced challenges and difficulties head-on, but our determination remains unwavering as we strive for excellence.

Our Mars rover prototype is designed to navigate rough terrain autonomously, using visual sensors, IMU sensors, and encoders. We intentionally don't use GPS data, aiming to simulate real space exploration conditions. Our team remains committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation, even in the face of challenges that mirror those encountered in real space exploration missions.

Furthermore, it's essential that the rover can autonomously gather terrain samples using a 6DOF manipulator. In our project, developing an affordable electrical system is crucial. We're striving to strike a delicate balance between affordability and functionality to ensure that the rover can execute its tasks safely and effectively.

This is our video presentation for the ERC 2023:

The four main components for the navigation and robotic arm systems are this boards:

  • The power distribution unit (PDU) supplies power to both the stepper and DC brushed motors, which are essential for the mobility and robotic arm subsystems. Additionally, this board features an emergency system consisting of a series of relays connected to a high-quality automotive-grade button. This emergency system is capable of disconnecting all devices from the battery power source in case of a critical situation.

  • The navigation control unit (NCO) utilizes an ESP32 microcontroller to manage both the steering system and the DC motors powering the six wheels. Additionally, it's responsible for reading data from magnetic absolute encoders positioned on the steering frame.

  • The Robotic Arm Control Unit (RACU) is an essential component comprising an ESP32 microcontroller responsible for managing the motors that enable the six Degrees of Freedom (DOF) of the robotic manipulator. It also facilitates connections for magnetic absolute encoders, which provide precise feedback on the arm's position for effective control.

  • On the other hand, the Science Control Unit (SCU) is a dedicated printed circuit board (PCB) designed specifically to oversee the scientific tools integrated into the prototype system. It plays a pivotal role in controlling the motors associated with the Deep Sample System (DSS), responsible for collecting samples from deep within the environment. Additionally, the SCU manages sensors used to analyze both deep and surface samples, enhancing the system's capabilities in sample collection and analysis.

By partnering with PCBWay, we would gain access to cutting-edge technologies and expertise that are essential for driving innovation and refining our skills. As engineering students, this opportunity promises invaluable hands-on experience and an unparalleled chance to further develop our capabilities.

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Mar 06,2024
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