Task 2: Surface Sampling

Task Description

With the expansion of mining activities at the outpost, there is a need to collect core samples from a region suspected of being rich in resources. Since this is expected to be a recurring process, a rover capable of obtaining samples from multiple locations with minimum human assistance is desired.

The task area contains very hard ground that is composed of naturally compacted clay, sand, and gravel. Some locations may contain softer sediment available for sampling, but this is not guaranteed.

Task Resources


  1. The task is comprised of the following activities:

    1. Travel to three different locations.

    2. Collect a sample at each location.

    3. Return each sample to the base and deposit it in the correct container.

  2. The path to each location may not be a straight line; Rovers may have to navigate obstacles and challenging terrain to reach the sediment sources.

  3. During sample collections drills should attempt to reach a depth of 75mm.

  4. Sample locations, the return location, the start area, and all other points of interest will be provided via GPS coordinates before task time begins.

  5. Rovers will begin facing a direction chosen by the judges.

  6. Scored actions do not need to be completed in the listed order.

  7. A detailed description of the receptacle for the samples will be provided on the competition website. The height will be between 20 and 60 cm above the ground.

  8. A separate, labeled container will be provided for depositing each sample.


Travel to location

  • Judges will have their own method of verifying the rover’s location (visual indicators or handheld GPS receiver).

  • When teams believe the rover has manually or autonomously stopped within 2.5m of a sample location, they may ask the judge to verify the rover’s location before proceeding with sample collection.

Drill to a depth of 75 mm

  • Judges will use a device to determine the depth reached by the drill.

  • Teams should not drill deeper than 125 mm.

  • For a sample to count as collected, it must be held by the rover for more than thirty seconds.

Return to base

  • Rovers must reach the base to score.

  • Teams are not required to return to the base between each location

Return sample

  • Teams must return their sample into the designated receptacle

  • No score will be received for mixed samples. Minor and unavoidable cross-contamination is acceptable.

  • The sample must weigh at least 20 grams.

Autonomous scoring

  • Teams are rewarded autonomy points based on the number of actions (defined on the scoring rubric) completed in a row.

  • The value of each autonomous action is dependent on the total number of actions completed in a row. Any interventions will break the chain of successive actions.

    • The first through sixth actions earn two points per action

    • The seventh through twelfth earn three points per action

    • The thirteenth through eighteenth earn five points per action

    • The thirteenth through sixteenth actions earn seven points per action

    • There is no limit on the number of attempts at autonomous actions. Previously completed actions can be repeated autonomously to earn additional points, time permitting.

Example of autonomous scoring

Team A drives from the start to point 1 (action count: 1), attempts to drill (2), collects a sample (3), then drives to site 2 (4), attempts to drill (5), collects a sample (6), returns back to the sample receptacle (7,8 - for both site returns), returns each individual sample (9,10)

This would earn 6*2=12 for the first six actions, and 4*3=12 for the remaining actions, for a total of 24 autonomy points in addition to the points for all completed actions.

Judge’s Commentary

Keeping in line with the objective to make sure that each task challenges multiple aspects of your rovers this task in particular focuses on the following:

  • Autonomous navigation
  • Drill design
  • Time management
  • Terrain traversal

This task is the most heavily weighted towards that of autonomous navigation and operations by your rover. However, you still require a capable drill, and a rover that is competent in operations to obtain the entire score.

The base station antenna will be set up closer to the operating field so the antennas are not on the side of the water tower. This movement is being made to accomodate the feedback from participants in 2018. However, many space structure concepts are cylindrical in form, so a communications failure caused by a proximity to such a structure may cause problems on a mission.


Can the sample be collected from multiple drill holes at the same location? For example, if the first drilling attempt did not yield 20g of sediment, could the rover drill again immediately adjacent to the first hole and combine the collected dirt from the 2 holes?

Yes. The other holes must be within a 15cm radius of the first hole drilled.

Can a holder(such as a plastic cup) that contains a sample be deposited into the corresponding receptacle?

Yes. A sample holder can be returned from the rover onto the receptacle/scale. The judges need to be notified during the set up period so the holder can be weighed prior to the beginning of the task.