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

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

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

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

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

    7. 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 correctly identify the status of the reactor by reading the code and then notify the judge. Refer to the Autonomy Guidelines section of the rules for more information on the codes that will be used.

    3. Extra points will be given to teams who can identify the code autonomously. 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

  2. A splint to stabilize the astronaut’s broken leg

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

  4. Drawings and instructions for applying the splint


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 can survive a dose of 5 Sv as measured by the dosimeter on the front of their spacesuit. Exceeding this dose will result in the death of the astronaut. You may call an intervention to reset the task, including the astronaut’s dosimeter.

  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. Stabilize the astronaut’s injuries. Before falling unconscious the astronaut reported a broken leg. If possible, apply a splint to the injured leg before moving the astronaut to minimize permanent damage.

  4. 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. If the astronaut exceeds their allowable dose (5 Sv) at any time, you will not receive points for their extraction.

    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.

  • Full documentation for the dosimeters will be provided well ahead of the competition. For now, the rover-mount dosimeter will have a display providing accumulated dose as a number, and will have a port to which you can connect to digitally read out the data. You may connect the dosimeter to your rover before the task starts. Expect I2C, SPI, UART, or similar. The astronaut’s dosimeter will simply have a screen with a numerical read-out.

  • 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 a lethal radiation dose.

Pontifex Perplexus: Collaborative Task


Following the reactor incident, the settlement’s primary cooling system has been badly damaged and ambient temperatures across the habitat are steadily rising. Construction of the backup cooling system was incomplete at the time of the incident, and we cannot spare the personnel or resources for additional EVAs at this time.

All available rovers are to work together to bring the backup cooling station online as soon as possible to prevent additional degradation of settlement repair capability. The provided assembly and operations manuals should be consulted in order to achieve maximum station efficiency.

This task features multiple rovers operating concurrently in a large shared space. It combines elements of several other tasks, including object identification and transportation, assembling structures, manipulating controls, and interpreting written manuals. Allowed time on task will be three hours per team of up to four rovers. Although cooperation is not required to complete the tasks, assisting other rovers will be rewarded while interference will be penalized.


Full requirements to be announced shortly. Please contact [email protected] with specific questions.

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 the nearby nuclear reactor facility to have a critical failure. 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. The area in which the repairs are to be done is very small and therefore use of wheels will not be applicable. 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 board

  2. Custom switch board diagnostics tools

Documentation Provided

  1. Repair manuals (including infographics and limited words)

  2. A detailed repair manual for the SME


  1. Establish communications with SME

  2. Login to switch board maintenance system

  3. Evaluate status of switch board

  4. Complete power switching operation


  1. Robot will be restrained to a box

    1. 1000 mm by 1000 mm square platform

    2. 600 mm will be highest point robot arm will be required to reach

  2. Rover functions

    1. Type into keyboard

    2. Open access door

    3. Read status lights

    4. Flip switches

    5. press buttons

    6. Remove/replace parts

    7. Remove/replace wires

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.