CIRC 2020 Competition Tasks

Disaster has struck the Martian settlement!

The colony’s nuclear power reactor complex has suffered a catastrophic accident. The local environment and its inhabitants are at great risk from the released radiation. Only your rover can contain the damage. To accomplish this, your rover will complete four day-time tasks and one night-time task. Your heroic actions will include saving vulnerable astronauts, repairing damaged equipment, and more. Each task will test a combination of rover skills such as navigation, arm manipulation, autonomy, and science. Detailed descriptions of each task are posted below. Good luck!

Reactor Patrol Route: Traversal Task


The nuclear reactors require frequent monitoring and inspection. A patrol route has been made to inspect the reactors. It is your task to travel this route and do a routine inspection. Disaster is likely if the reactors are not visited and checked in a timely manner.


  1. Traverse to the provided GPS locations by approaching and visiting each waypoint.

    1. There are 8 GPS locations. Rovers must reach each GPS location consecutively. Ex: 1 before 2, 2 before 3, 3 before 4, etc.

    2. In the case of an intervention, the rover may start at the start line or at a waypoint that the rover has already reached successfully. An attempt to navigate autonomously must be started from the start line or from a waypoint that the rover has already reached autonomously. An attempt to navigate manually must be started from the start line or from a waypoint that the rover has already reached autonomously or manually. Ex. you may not attempt to autonomously drive from waypoint 6 to waypoint 7 if you manually drove from the start through waypoints 1 to 6 but you could decide to manually drive from 6 to 7 if you had autonomously driven from the start all the way to waypoint 6.

    3. GPS coordinates are provided during setup time. The start location is not a GPS coordinate.

    4. Points will be awarded for finding the GPS marker location and moving to within 5 meters of those markers as measured by a judge.

    5. GPS locations 5 to 8 will include progressively more difficult terrain and may involve obstacle avoidance.

    6. Extra points will be given to teams who can reach the GPS waypoints autonomously.

    7. A 1% bonus per full minute under the time limit will be given to teams able to reach all 8 waypoints autonomously.

    8. If a team successfully reaches all 8 waypoints successfully teleoperated, they may restart the course with no penalty to attempt the course autonomously.

  2. At each site:

    1. A marker will be placed at each GPS coordinate to represent the waypoint. Details of the marker will be made available on the website ahead of the competition.

    2. Rovers must autonomously identify the status of the reactor by reading the code and then notifying the judge. The rover or base station software must output the result for the judge to see to receive full points. Refer to the Autonomy Guidelines section of the rules for more information on the codes that will be used.

    3. Some points will be awarded if the camera is manually aimed at the marker and the rover autonomously identifies the code. More points will be awarded if the rover autonomously scans for the marker and identifies the code.

Disaster Response: Search & Rescue Task


There has been an explosion at the settlement power reactor complex, injuring one of our crew and spreading dangerously radioactive material around the area.

The local radiation levels are acutely dangerous. Rescue crews cannot safely approach the site. Our courageous astronaut will not survive long in these circumstances, and the exposed reactor core is a threat to the nearby settlement.

Your mission will be divided into two parts. First you must save and evacuate the astronaut from the area, and then you must ensure the area is safe for human crew to continue cleanup and operation.

Tools Provided

  1. A rover-mount dosimeter

Documentation Provided

  1. A site map including the reactor area, with GPS coordinates

  2. A user manual for the rover-mount dosimeter

  3. Drawings for the astronaut’s suit tow-point


Phase 1: Save the astronaut

  1. Minimize your exposure to radiation. The explosion has released large volumes of radioactive material, which will be harmful to both your rover and the astronaut in need of assistance.

    1. Your rover has been qualified to an accumulated dose of 20 Sv as measured on the rover-mount dosimeter. Exceeding this value will cause your rover to fail. An intervention will be called, and the task will be restarted.

    2. The astronaut is rated to receive a dose of 5 Sv as measured by the dosimeter on the front of their spacesuit. Dosage in excess of 5Sv is considered critical, and will greatly impede his treatment.

  2. Locate the astronaut in need of assistance. They will be in the vicinity of the reactors, but the exact position is not yet known as the radiation seems to be interfering with our ability to locate the emergency beacon.

  3. Remove the astronaut from the dangerous area. The spacesuit has an attached tow-hook for use in emergency situations like these. You must transport the astronaut back to the starting position before time runs out.

    1. Keep in mind the area is scattered with radioactive debris. Close contact with this material will rapidly expose the astronaut to a critical dose. Use great caution in navigating around this material.

    2. The astronaut is already injured. Any further injury caused by the extraction process will be penalized.

Phase 2: Containment and Assessment

  1. To determine whether it is safe for our crew to begin repair of containment of the reactor facility, we need information from the reactor control panels. Drive to the reactors and read from the panels any error or warning messages.

  2. We also need to determine which areas near the facility are safe. Provide an annotated map of the area, noting the accumulated dose rate (Sv/hr) as measured by your rover dosimeter.

  3. Finally, large chunks of slightly radioactive material have been scattered over the area. These large chunks do not pose a hazard to your rover, but will impede the repair, containment, and restoration efforts. Consolidate as many pieces of this material as possible into a small number of piles, to simplify containment.

Judge’s Commentary

  • There will be no actual radioactive material at the competition. The provided dosimeters will be providing simulated data only. Do not attempt to build your own dosimeter or radiation-harden your rover.

  • The rover-mount dosimeter will have a numerical display indicating accumulated dose as a number, and instantaneous dose as a bar graph. Additionally there will be a 3.3V UART output via a 3.5mm TS jack which continuously streams dosage information.

  • The astronaut suit dosimeter will appear similar to the rover-mount dosimeter. Full documentation for the dosimeters will be provided well ahead of the competition.

  • Because the astronaut was injured at the site before your task begins, their accumulated dose will not be zero when you find them. You will need to be careful when choosing an extraction route to ensure the astronaut doesn’t accumulate an unacceptable dose.

Pontifex Perplexus: Collaborative Task


The settlement’s central cooling systems have sustained extensive damage as a result of the reactor explosion, and the lack of climate control is seriously hampering repair efforts. Cooperate with other rover operations crews operating stimultaneously to repair the systems as quickly as possible.

Tools Provided

Each team will be assigned one set of color-coded equipment as follows:

  1. Heat Exchanger Housing near starting point

  2. Set of 8 labeled heat exchanger elements, scattered randomly around the task area

  3. Hose and Ball Valve attached to Heat Exchanger Housing

  4. Coolant Catchment Basin attached to Heat Exchanger Housing

  5. Coolant Supply Tank and Coolant Disposal Tank near starting point

  6. Supply Delivery Receptacle near starting point

  7. Sponge Supply Box containing 4 sponges near starting point

  8. Gear Supply Box containing set of 4 numbered gears near starting point

  9. Pump Control Panel, located beyond the Heat Exchanger Housing

Documentation Provided

For each subtask, a manual page with an explanatory diagram will be placed randomly in the task area to be photographed by the rovers.


Heat Exchanger Assembly

  1. The Heat Exchanger Assembly manual page including an assembly diagram is located somewhere in the task area. Take a clear photo of this diagram with your rover camera and deliver it to a task judge via Slack or USB drive to score points.

  2. Each of your heat exchanger elements must be delivered within 1m of your heat exchanger housing to score points.

  3. Each heat exchanger element should be installed into the correct slot in your housing according to the assembly diagram from the manual page to score full points. Elements installed incorrectly will score partial points.

Drive Gear Installation

  1. The Drive Gear Assembly manual page including a gearbox diagram is located somewhere in the task area. Take a clear photo of this diagram with your rover camera and deliver it to a task judge via Slack or USB drive to score points.

  2. There is a gearbox cover on the pump control panel. Fully open the cover using the recessed twist handle to score points.

  3. There is a number on a label posted within the pump control panel behind the gearbox cover. Take a clear photo of this label with your rover camera and deliver it to a task judge via Slack or USB drive to score points.

  4. Lift the gear corresponding to your pump control panel label fully out of your gear supply box to score points.

  5. Drive fully across your Heat Exchanger Assembly while carrying the correct gear for your Pump Control Panel to score points.

  6. Install the correct gear fully onto the spindle behind the gearbox cover in your Pump Control Panel to score points.

  7. Fully close the gearbox cover using the recessed twist handle to score points.

  8. Task judges will inform you of which gear is required by each other rover team. Deliver the required gear from your gear supply box to each other team’s Supply Delivery Receptacle to score points.

Coolant Refilling

  1. The Coolant Refilling manual page including a control panel diagram is located somewhere in the task area. Take a clear photo of this diagram with your rover camera and deliver it to a task judge via Slack or USB drive to score points.

  2. Used coolant has escaped into the Coolant Catchment Basin. Use a single sponge from your Sponge Supply Box to deliver as much coolant as possible to your Coolant Disposal Tank. The sponge may be left in the Coolant Disposal Tank. To score full points, avoid contaminating the coolant with dirt.

  3. Deliver one sponge from your Sponge Supply Box to each of the other teams’ Supply Delivery Receptacles to score points.

  4. There is a hose nearby each Heat Exchanger Housing. Place the free end of the hose into the opening of your Coolant Supply Tank to score points.

  5. Fully open the ball valve attached to the Heat Exchanger Housing to score points.

  6. The Pump Control Panel includes a toggle switch. Flip this switch to “Fill” to score points.

  7. The Pump Control panel includes a throttle lever and a display indicating fill level. The fill level will increase when the toggle switch is set to “Fill” and the throttle lever is between 25% and 50% power. Increase the fill level to 100% to score points.

  8. While the fill level is at 100%, flip the toggle switch to “Circulate” to score points.

  9. While the fill level is at 100%, move the throttle lever to 100% to score points.


  1. Time on site (15 minutes setup time, 15 minutes takedown time, 180 minutes task time) will be shared with up to 3 other teams.

  2. Radio interference will be minimized by grouping teams according to spectrum usage reports. The task area will be relatively small with good line-of-sight, so teams should operate their radios at minimum power. If there is clear evidence of inter-team radio interference, alternate arrangements may be made.

  3. All personnel must remain outside the task area until an intervention has been called.

  4. Each of the three subtasks (Heat Exchanger Assembly, Drive Gear Installation, and Coolant Refilling) are scored independently according to the Pontifex Perplexus Rubric. Note that the total acheivable score for this task is 300 points compared to the typical 100.

  5. Unless otherwise indicated, actions within subtasks may be completed in any order.

  6. No score penalty will be assessed for the first 3 interventions.

  7. Rovers must be removed from the task area during an intervention and restart either at the starting point or at the pump control panel.

  8. Rovers deemed by task judges to be interfering with other rovers’ operations will be warned, and if corrective action is not taken an intervention will be called.

  9. Any equipment carried by a rover when an intervention is called may be reset to its starting point or left at the intervention site at the team’s discretion.

Land Speculation: Prospecting Task


Following the catastrophic failure of the power supply at your current settlement, a new outpost must be constructed. A potentially suitable but unexplored area nearby has been identified from orbital surveys. All EVA-qualified astronauts are currently involved in damage control efforts and preparations for evacuation, so a rover must carry out the survey.

Teams must investigate the promising region and evaluate it for temporary and long-term settlement according to the included list of metrics. At least three discrete sites must be thoroughly recorded and documented. Record your survey route and note any landmarks or potential navigational hazards to facilitate the further development of the area.

The area has not yet been explored. A soil sample should be retrieved and analyzed both to determine whether or not the area meets the metrics for habitation and for scientific study. After the return of their rover, teams will have a short time to analyze their sample and compile a report on their findings and recommendations before the complex must be evacuated.

A map of the area will be provided prior to the competition.


Three levels of development are possible in the near term.

Emergency Shelters are temporary structures that can house the evacuees from the settlement in slightly greater comfort and privacy than the rovers used to travel to the site. An Emergency Shelter can be built quickly in virtually any open area and disassembled for recycling or reuse when no longer needed. They are vulnerable to hostile environmental conditions and are unsuitable for long term habitation. Unless conditions in the area prevent it, an Emergency Shelter should be deployed as either housing during construction or cleanup, or as a base to continue the search for a new site.

Outposts are medium structures that ordinarily host a scientific team, though all of the evacuees could be housed until another site can be found or cleanup at the previous settlement is completed. They require some time to set up and cannot be easily disassembled, but are much more resilient than Emergency Shelters. Outposts are not fully self-sufficient, and care must be taken to ensure resupply is feasible. An Outpost should be deployed if the area is judged to have features of scientific interest, but is not suitable for permanent settlement at this time.

Habitation Complexes are large structures that house many astronauts and their equipment on a permanent basis, and serve as a home base for operations over a wider area. Habitation Complexes require a great deal of effort and material to construct, but serve as the nucleus of a larger settlement. A large area of stable ground is needed to support such a structure, and provisions for power generation and vehicle access. A Habitation Complex should be constructed if the area is suitable for long term habitation, and would serve as a replacement for the previous settlement.

Site Metrics

  1. Available Space:

    1. Emergency Shelter - 8.0 meters x 6.0 meters

    2. Outpost - 10.0 meters x 6.5 meters

    3. Habitation Complex - 15.0 meters x 7.5 meters

  2. Resources:

    1. Mineral Resources:

      1. Metal ore

      2. Carbonaceous materials

    2. Soil Composition

      1. Water content

      2. Nutrients

    3. Scientific Potential

      1. Signs of life

      2. Geological interest

  3. Development Potential:

    1. Easy route to chosen site

    2. Terrain suitable for building

    3. Shelter from inclement weather

    4. Suitability for expansion


  1. Travel to at least three (3) discrete locations. The following actions must be undertaken during the survey:

    1. Record the route taken using GPS waypoints.

    2. Document and photograph any landmarks or navigational hazards in the area. Estimate their location relative to your route.

  2. At each site:

    1. Record the GPS coordinates of the extents of the chosen site, i.e. record the GPS coordinates such that the site can be represented on the map by a polygon with vertices at the coordinates.

    2. Take a panorama photograph of the site. A minimum of 180o is required, with 360o required for full points. Select a point with good visibility somewhere within the previously recorded extents. Record the GPS coordinates of the point at which the panorama was taken.

    3. Take photographs documenting the site’s compliance (or lack thereof) with the above metrics.

    4. Collect a 5 - 100 g soil sample for further study. The test must not deposit any foreign materials in the test area. Samples must be kept separate from one another.


  1. Following completion of the rover’s time on the task site, teams will have three hours to perform additional tests on the sample, and write and submit a report of up to 3500 words (excluding references, if present) on their execution of the task and their findings. Reports should be submitted to the judges via the Slack workspace dedicated to the event. No reports will be accepted after three hours. The report must include:

    1. Abstract:

      1. Summarize the situation and the purpose of the report, and provide a high-level overview of the procedure and findings.
    2. Search procedure and route:

      1. Provide an explanation of the approach to the survey used by the team. Justify the areas investigated and the route taken.

      2. Show a map of the search area. Indicate on the map the route taken by the rover, the extents of each site, and the locations of any landmarks, navigational hazards, or other features of interest spotted during the survey.

    3. Report on site(s):

      1. State the GPS coordinates recorded at the site.

      2. Show the panorama photograph of the site and the GPS coordinates at which it was taken. Indicate the direction from which the site was approached and comment on any visible landmarks.

      3. State the observations at each site. Show the photos taken during the survey and explain their significance.

      4. Describe the sample collected. Justify the selection of site from which it was collected.

      5. Explain the methodology of the tests carried out on the sample.

      6. Describe the results of the tests on the sample and their significance.

      7. Describe the route to the selected site. Describe and comment on the non-site-related features noted during the survey.

    4. Analysis:

      1. State your recommendations for the development of the area. Address each site and any other observations from the survey. Justify your recommendation using the evidence and observations described elsewhere in the report.

      2. Make suggestions for execution of the evacuation, resettlement, and long-term development (if applicable). These suggestions could include both engineering goals (e.g. development of mineral resources or construction of additional facilities) and scientific studies (e.g. preservation of geologically interesting region or a plan to collect a range of core samples) at the site.

Judge’s Commentary

  • Teams are free to select multiple sites in close proximity to one another, but will be required to justify how the sites were differentiated (e.g. separated by physical feature of the area, must be approached via different routes, etc.) in their report to receive full points for identifying multiple sites.

  • Take care when rounding GPS coordinates. Rounding to three decimal places has introduced errors of up to 40 meters in previous events.

  • Consider multiple possibilities when formulating your approach and recommendations.

  • Teams are strongly encouraged to submit their report even if they cannot complete the field task. Points will be awarded for all sections of the report that can be completed without data from the field (e.g. the intended exploration route, any observations that could be made from the rover, the intended experiments, recommendations for further study, etc).

  • Similarly, consider starting the report ahead of time. Aspects that are not dependent on your results and can be completed in advance to free up time before the deadline. Establishing an outline and skeleton can also save time for writing up your results.

  • Tell the story of the investigation and tests. Link your various sections together.

  • All metrics, even those that are not met, should be addressed when describing and comparing the sites.

  • The “why” and “how” are as valuable as the “what” in reports. In addition to describing observations, experiments, or decisions, provide an explanation of their meaning.

  • Differentiate between what your plan was and what you were able to accomplish.

  • Be honest about technical difficulties when writing the report.

  • Clearly state what is fact and what is speculation in your report. For example, describing the site as “rich in ironstone” would be accurate only if a sample of the rock was obtained and tested or closely examined by an expert. If this was not done, a team should simply provide a physical description of the rocks, and may add that it resembles ironstone.

  • Similarly, reports should differentiate between observations that can indicate some features and those that necessitate it. For example, water is a necessary precondition to life as we know it. Thus, identifiable life suggests the presence of water, but the presence of water does not necessarily indicate the presence of life.

  • Any assumptions made in the report must be stated explicitly.

  • Figures must be described in full, either through a descriptive caption or references in the text. Figures without proper description are not useful.

  • Good spelling and grammar are appreciated. If there’s no time to proofread, run the document through the spelling/grammar check before submitting. No penalties are applied, but a well-presented report is more enjoyable to read, and seems more compelling in its arguments.

Reactor Servicing: Arm Dexterity Task


A catastrophic seismic event has caused a critical failure at the nearby nuclear reactor facility. All systems in the region have switched to emergency power, but will only stay active for one hour. It is up to your team to quickly determine what actions are necessary to fix the system and redirect power back to the region. The automated reactor is unmanned, your team must operate a rover stationed at the power switch board at the reactor for just such emergencies. Unfortunately this system is very old and nobody in your team has been trained on how to operate the switchboard. Therefore your team must work with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) back on earth to repair the module. As the SME is back on earth, you will have to communicate with them using radio.

Tools Provided

  1. Custom switch boards

  2. Custom switch board diagnostics tools

  3. Communications between the SME and the Command Center team

Documentation Provided

  1. Repair manuals (including infographics and limited words)

  2. A detailed repair manual for the SME


  1. Establish communications with SME

  2. Evaluate status of switch board circuitry

  3. Complete power switching operation


  1. The competition area consists of a 1500mm x 1500mm square.

    1. There are control panels on three sides of the square.

    2. Driving is not required for this task, however rovers are permitted to move around within the competition area.

    3. 600 mm will be highest point robot arm will be required to reach.

  2. Rover functions

    1. Read text

    2. Flip levers

    3. Flip switches

    4. Press buttons

    5. Read ohmmeter display

    6. Apply ohmmeter probe to to potentially damaged areas of circuitry

Judge’s Commentary

  • Each module has a unique identifying code to ensure proper manuals are used


As always, the bonus just-for-fun task will be hosted at the end of CIRC. For more information see its dedicated page: Rovelympics.