CIRC 2024 Winter Rules and Guidelines


    1. The 2024 Winter Canadian International Rover Challenge (CIRC Winter 2024) will commence on February 22, 2024 in Niagara, Ontario.
    2. Task sites are expected to all be located on the grounds around CIRC Central Powered by Protocase. As such teams are responsible for transporting themselves and their rover between CIRC Central and the task sites.
    3. Teams should arrive and register with competition organizers between 10:00 and 17:00 local time.
    4. The first competition tasks will begin at approximately 8:00 on February 23, 2024. CIRC Winter 2024 will conclude during the evening of February 24, 2024.
    5. Below is a high level event schedule. All times are local to Niagara, Ontario. Depending on the number of teams, start/end times for tasks may be adjusted closer to the event.
    6. A safety report is due to organizers for review on January 15, 2024 as detailed in section 7 of the Safety Rules.
    7. All teams are required to have their equipment, and rovers cleared from the building prior according to the following schedule.

      Item Day/Time
      CIRC Central Opens Thursday - 10:00
      Kick Off/Event Briefing Friday - 7:30
      Tasks Start Friday - 9:00
      All Tasks End Saturday - 16:30
      Awards Ceremony & Photos Saturday - 17:30
      Celebration Meal Saturday - 18:30
      Teams Clean Up Saturday - 23:00
    8. A sample event of what the schedule format will look like is shown below.
    9. Rescheduling of teams due to circumstances not within the control of volunteers or event organizers will not be accommodated.
    1. Entry into CIRC Winter 2024 is limited and subject to the approval of the organizing committee.
    2. Interested teams should submit a formal expression of interest using a form available on the CIRC website ( in order to be considered.
    3. Invited teams must pay the non-refundable registration fee of $500 CAD to confirm entry into the competition.
    1. International teams are responsible for ensuring that all team members and rover components are admissible into Canada.
    2. Teams requiring a visa to enter Canada are responsible for applying in a timely manner. Apply early! Consult for more information.
    3. Teams requiring letters of invitation from CIRC must pay in advance for expedited or tracked delivery if requested.
    4. Information regarding border crossings can be found on the Canadian Border Services Agency website (
    5. If in doubt, teams should contact CBSA in advance or plan on purchasing parts in Canada before the event begins.
    1. Competition teams consist of secondary or post-secondary students, optionally accompanied by non-student advisors who may not directly participate in rover design, construction, or operation.
    2. Teams that are not composed of secondary, or post-secondary students are invited to reach out to the organizers ([email protected]) to discuss options for participation.
    3. Teams who feel their rovers are not ready are encouraged to attend and participate to test their rovers on site and learn from other participants!
    4. Teams at the event are able to participate in tasks even if their rover does not comply with all rules to use the time to test and debug their rover at a task site. Points earned may not count towards the final rankings.
    1. During the competition teams should store, work on, and test their rovers at CIRC Central
    2. The facility will be supervised and open to teams at all times including overnight, starting at event registration, ending at the wrap up.
    3. The facility will be open to the public and spectators during normal business hours.
    4. Teams are encouraged to interact with each other and the public, and must behave in a fashion which reflects well upon their institution and the competition.
    5. All teams are required to adhere to the CIRC Central Facility Usage Guidelines
    6. Proper, and safe disposal of sharps and chemicals is the responsibility of teams, not the CIRC organizers, facility, or facility staff.
    1. No aircraft may communicate with the rover or rover operators, or be used to aid completion of rover tasks.
    2. Pilots must remain outside of the base station during competition tasks.
    3. Any person operating an aircraft must understand and comply with all Canadian aviation regulations and local laws.
    4. CIRC takes no responsibility for the outcome of teams’ use of aircraft.
    5. Drones are not permitted at all task locations.
    6. Refer to the Canadian UAV guidelines for more information.
    1. Refer to the logistics guidelines for more information on preparing for your trip to CIRC.


  1. MASS
    1. Competition teams must attempt competition tasks using a single, self-contained, ground-based rover, which should have a mass below 50kg.
    2. The rover should be transportable by two team members without the use of a wheeled cart.
    3. Each full kilogram below 50 kg rovers weigh at the beginning of each task results in a 1% score bonus for that task; for each full kilogram above 50 kg, a 1% penalty will be applied.
    4. Rovers weighing over 70kg will not be permitted to operate at task sites due to safety and environmental concerns.
  2. SIZE
    1. All rovers must be able to fit into the event centre either as a single piece, or in multiple pieces through a door of 0.8 m wide.
  3. TIME
    1. Competition team rovers should be able to operate continuously for at least one hour (typical task duration) using onboard power. Tethered power connections are not permitted.
    2. Task durations may vary between 45 minutes and 3 hours. Servicing of the rover or swapping batteries is permitted as a major intervention unless otherwise stated in task rules.
    3. At least one hour of downtime will be provided between tasks.
    1. Competition team rovers must be capable of operating within the terrain and weather conditions which may naturally occur during a competition task, including rain, mud, snow, darkness, cold weather, high heat, etc.
    2. Tasks may be postponed due to inclement weather at judge’s discretion. In some circumstances rescheduling of tasks may not be possible due to time constraints.
    3. A team that has not completed a task and cannot be rescheduled will receive 0 points for that task.
    4. Site terrains vary between naturally compacted soil, and loose ground, ice, and snow. Some sites may include vegetation.
    1. Rovers must be substantially designed, built, and programmed by team members. The use of complex off-the-shelf modules is discouraged.
      1. For example, a purchased motor controller is acceptable while an entire purchased robotic arm is not.
    2. Competition team rover systems must be conceptually suitable for operation on Mars.
    3. Rover components are not required to be space-grade.
    4. Refer to the CIRC Rover Design Guide for more information and tips on building your rover.
    1. The construction and operation of all rovers must comply with the CIRC Rover Safety Requirements unless an exemption has been granted.
    2. Exemptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis by submitting a request to [email protected], including the problematic requirement and proposed alternative.
    3. Rovers will be subject to safety compliance inspections by organizers whenever the rover is operational. Teams must resolve any issues to the satisfaction of the inspecting organizer before continuing operation.
    4. All rovers will be required to pass an initial safety compliance inspection at some point between registration and the start of their first competition task.
    5. Sufficient evidence (such as schematics, datasheets, calculations) of safety compliance must be provided to competition organizers by January 15, 2024.
    6. Teams are encouraged to submit partial or full documentation at any time before the deadline to be reviewed for compliance.
    1. All rovers must be operated remotely through a wireless connection. Tethered communication is not permitted unless otherwise noted by task specific rules.
    2. All rover communications systems and use thereof must comply with all applicable Industry Canada Regulations (
    3. Any team found to be operating equipment in contravention of these regulations, or in a manner which maliciously interferes with other teams’ activities, will be disqualified.
    4. Teams are required to operate their rovers from within CIRC Central. An ethernet connection will be provided by the competition, connecting CIRC central to the task base station. See the base station rules for additional information.
    5. CIRC Central can experience significant noise and signal levels. At this time CIRC will not coordinate frequency spectrum use within the facility.
    6. The use of interference-tolerating protocols and cooperation between teams is strongly encouraged.
    7. We will reserve some channels in the 5.8GHz band for use of competition related infrastructure. Teams must not operate in these channels without prior approval from the organizers.
    1. Rovers are not required to operate autonomously.
    2. Some tasks will have a portion of the points allocated towards completing autonomous operations.
    3. Autonomous operation is defined as the rover fully completing a scored task requirement without any input from a rover operator.
    4. Refer to the Autonomy Guidelines section of the rules for specific details.

Task Participation

    1. Task site judges are the final authority on task rules and procedure, and may impose penalties for flagrant or repeated violations.
    1. Each competition team will be scored for each task according to a rubric available from the competition website: CIRC Winter 2024 Scoring Rubric (pending).
    2. Final task scores will be rounded to the nearest whole number.
    3. The lowest achievable score for each task is zero.
    4. Teams may submit written appeals regarding task scores to [email protected] within one hour of receiving formal notification of their score.
    5. The competition team with the highest total score after all tasks are over and all appeals are resolved shall be declared the winner of CIRC Winter 2024.
    1. Teams will have 15 minutes of setup time to prepare their rover at each task site.
    2. Teams may not unload equipment at the task site until a task judge has indicated that setup time has begun.
    3. Teams’ task time begins when the setup time expires, and will not be delayed if setup is ongoing.
    4. Tasks may have a brief site introduction from the judges during their set up period.
    5. After the task is over, teams will have 15 minutes of takedown time to clear all of their equipment from the task site.
    6. Teams which have not cleared the task site by the end of their takedown time may be penalized at a rate of 1 point per minute.
    1. Teams will be required to operate their rovers from within CIRC Central. An ethernet connection will be provided by the competition between CIRC Central and the task site.
      1. Teams will set up their wireless base station at the task site, and connect it to the provided ethernet cable.
      2. The provided ethernet connection will operate like a simple cable, but may contain intermediate components like switches limiting bandwidth to 100Mbps
    1. A location for the placement of team radio equipment at each task site will be designated.
    2. All equipment used for rover operation must be set up either within the team area at the base station or at the antenna site.
    3. CIRC will provide an ethernet cable (CAT5e) to connect back to the team’s base station in CIRC Central, and an extension (power) cable at the antenna site that connects to the base station.
    4. A simple antenna mast will be provided at this location, and its specifications may be found on the competition website at the links below. Teams may substitute their own antenna mast, but its height must not exceed 4m.
      1. Antenna Stand Assembly
      2. Antenna Mount
    1. Two team members are required to accompany CIRC organizers into the task area during task time. Additional team members may follow at a greater distance as spectators at judges’ discretion.
    2. Team members following the rover should maintain a 5m following distance and refrain from any action which could be interpreted as communication with the rover operators.
    3. Rover operators must not communicate with spectators.
    4. Team members following the rover or otherwise present at task sites must be dressed suitably for the current weather conditions. Organizers may suspend any competition activities in order to resolve any perceived health or safety issue.
    1. An intervention allows competition teams to repair the rover during task time, or judges to interrupt problematic behaviour.
    2. Competition teams may not touch or interfere with the rover during a task except during an intervention.
    3. Any judge or team member at the task site may call an intervention, at which point the rover’s kill switch will be pushed and it may be carried back to the task starting area.
    4. During an intervention, team members may communicate to repair or test the rover, but must not discuss any details of the task or task area which could aid rover operators. Team members following the rover may return to the base station for the purposes of discussing repairs and may freely return to the field afterwards as long as the above communication rules were observed.
    5. If judges feel that inappropriate communication has taken place during an intervention, a 20% score penalty will be applied.
    6. There are two levels of intervention. The task judge will have final say in determining the level of intervention in the event of any uncertainty.
      1. Minor interventions are used to repair damage and resolve issues (e.g. communications difficulties) with the rover, or to remove the rover from a potentially unsafe situation. If any minor interventions are called during the task, a single 10% penalty will be applied to the final task score.
      2. Major Interventions are used to make substantial changes to the rover or its functionality (e.g replace end effectors, changing batteries, altering software settings other than by remote access), or to place the rover at a location/orientation other than the starting line or the point at which the intervention was called. If any major interventions are called during the event, a 15% penalty to all tasks completed after each major intervention. This penalty is cumulative for each major intervention.
      3. Some tasks have exemptions to these general intervention rules.
    1. Teams are required to follow the instructions given by task judges and event personnel. If instructions are not followed during the event a penalty up to 100% of points of their event score may be deducted, at the discretion of the judges, or event staff.
    2. Teams are required to not intentionally interfere with other teams during tasks, such as by blocking or damaging an opponent’s rover. If a team is found to be interfering, a penalty of up to 100% of points for the current task may be imposed at the discretion of the judge immediately or after review following the task.
    3. If instructions are not followed or intentional interference occurs outside of a task, the next or previous task points for the team may be penalized at the discretion of the event organizers.
    4. When possible, teams will be notified if they are about to receive a penalty and will be given a reasonable opportunity to comply or take corrective action. A warning is not required to occur prior to the application of a penalty.
    5. Penalties are final and will not be overturned.

Autonomy Guidelines

  1. Some tasks will require some autonomous operation to achieve full points.
  2. Teams must declare when they are entering autonomous mode for any actions taken autonomously to receive full points.
  3. During autonomous operation, no team member may touch the rover controls or operations computers. After doing so no actions will be considered autonomous until autonomous operation has been stopped and restarts.
    1. This includes any form of input to the controls or operations computers, even if they do not have an effect on the rover’s operation (eg. adjusting antenna steering, switching cameras, or mission planning).
    2. A separate computer not controlling the rover is allowed to be used during autonomous operations for mission planning or similar tasks. This should be identified to the judge in the operations tent before the task begins.
  4. The operators should notify the judge whenever a period of autonomous operation is ending. Otherwise Autonomy Guideline 3 will be used.
  5. For tasks requiring rovers to travel to a waypoint, the waypoint will be provided as GPS coordinates using the WGS 84 datum. Coordinates will be provided at the start of the tasks.
  6. For tasks requiring fine waypoint accuracy, identification of objects, or interaction with objects, the waypoint or object will be designated using an Aruco machine vision marker.
    1. Each marker ID number will appear only once in the competition.
    2. All ArUco markers will be from the 4x4_100 dictionary. They range from marker 0 to 99.
    3. Each marker will be a minimum size of 2” x 2” or 5cm x 5cm.
    4. Markers will be attached to surfaces that contrast the Aruco markers, the background surfaces may not be white.
    5. For example, Marker 7 looks like the following example:
  7. You may be asked to read off a status message autonomously from a screen. In this case, the status will be visible in a human-readable format, in addition to being visible as an Aruco code.
  8. Examples of actions that can be completed autonomously may include but are not limited to:
    1. Travel to within 3m of the waypoint at provided GPS coordinates.
    2. Travel to within 1m of the tower labeled with Aruco marker #3, located at approximately these GPS coordinates.
    3. Deposit the screwdriver into the bin underneath Aruco marker #4.
    4. Connect to the trailer hitch, located 3 inches from Aruco marker #5 as shown on the trailer mechanical drawing.
    5. Press the button located beside Aruco marker #6


The construction and operation of all rovers must comply with the CIRC Rover Safety Requirements unless an exemption has been granted.

Exemptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis by submitting a request to [email protected], including the problematic requirement and proposed alternative.

Rovers will be subject to safety compliance inspections by organizers whenever the rover is operational. Teams must resolve any issues to the satisfaction of the inspecting organizer before continuing operation.

All rovers will be required to pass an initial safety compliance inspection at some point between registration and the start of their first competition task.

Sufficient evidence (such as schematics, datasheets, calculations) of safety compliance must be provided to competition organizers by the Safety Report Deadline:

  • For the Winter 2024 Challenge, by January 15, 2024.
  • For the Summer 2024 Challenge, by June 19, 2024

Teams are encouraged to submit partial or full documentation at any time before the deadline for feedback from the organizers.

Safety Guidelines

The purpose of this document is to define and enforce a minimum standard of rover design for all CIRC participants. This standard is intended to reduce the likelihood of rovers creating safety hazards or environmental damage. Rovers which do not comply with this document will be excluded from CIRC until all issues are resolved. Any questions or requests for exemptions should be directed to [email protected].

A basic example of a report from the 2019/2020 competition.


  1. The word “should” indicates a suggestion which may become a requirement in future competitions.
  2. A Circuit is one or more electricity-consuming devices (and the connections between them) which draw current from a single power source through a common circuit protection element.
  3. Regulators consume and provide power, with their input and outputs counting as at least one circuit each.
  4. The Current Rating of a component is the manufacturer-published value indicating the maximum acceptable amperage consumed or provided by the device in normal continuous conditions. Transient, burst, or peak current limits are not current ratings.
  5. The Current Rating of circuit protection is the amperage above which it is designed to interrupt current flow.
  6. Circuit Protection is a fuse or electromechanical circuit breaker which reliably interrupts excessive current flows through a connected circuit. Software-based solutions are insufficient. Motor controllers, power regulators, or other devices with current limiting capabilities are not sufficient for use as Circuit Protection. Self-resetting fuses are also insufficient.
  7. A Kill Switch is a physical switch mounted on a rover which, when pressed down, causes the interruption of power to all rover systems until the switch is manually reset.


  1. Rovers must not include any flammable, environmentally damaging, or otherwise hazardous liquids or gasses, except:
    1. Within a permanently sealed component such as a battery;
    2. Commercially-available lubricants as required by mechanical assemblies, where care is taken to avoid overuse and contamination.
  2. Each rover must be equipped with at least one kill switch.
    1. The pressable area of the kill switch must be at least 10 cm2 and red in color. Levers or toggle switches are not acceptable.
    2. No other button on the rover may be red.
    3. Kill switches must be mounted on the top of the rover, with the button oriented toward the sky in the rover’s normal driving orientation.
    4. A keep out region must be maintained around the kill switch with a radius of 15cm: No components taller than the base of the kill switch may intrude on the keep out region.
    5. Kill switches must not be obstructed by a cover or sleeve which extends above the pressable surface, and must be mounted such that it will not be obstructed by other components during rover operation.
    6. The circuit including the kill switch must include appropriate circuit protection, and the “break” or “disconnect” current rating of the kill switch must exceed the current rating of the circuit protection.
    7. The function of the kill switch must not depend on the integrity of any power source or computerized system. Indirect switching by relays or similar devices is permitted as long as these are driven by the kill switch, and reliably turn off when their control line is disconnected.
    8. The function of the kill switch must not depend on the integrity of any particular wiring connection; for example, physically tearing the kill switch off the rover should produce the same effect as pressing it.
    9. If multiple kill switches are installed on the rover, pressing any one should cut all power to to the rover.
    10. The function of the kill switch must not be disabled or bypassed by any means.
    11. Rovers should have a remote motion stop for disabling a run-away rover, such as a dead man’s switch on a lead, or a radio-frequency system that operates independently of the rover communications system.
  3. Each battery must include or be installed with a single circuit protection element which protects all circuits supplied by the battery, and the battery itself.
    1. The current rating of this protection must not exceed the lesser of:
      1. The current rating of the battery;
      2. 150% of the sum of the current ratings of all connected circuits.
    2. This circuit protection must be installed as close as possible to the battery.
    3. Each battery must be protected by a battery management system that provides under-voltage lockout protection.
      1. The battery management system should provide cell voltage monitoring, over-current protection, and over-voltage protection.
      2. Batteries should be connected to their battery management systems at all times, not only when installed on the rover.
    4. All wiring and connecting hardware between the battery and circuit protection must be fully secured and insulated such that no reasonable impact, vibration, loose object, or liquid could possibly create an unprotected short circuit.
    5. If multiple batteries are used, each must have its own fuse according to these requirements. You may not connect multiple batteries without a circuit protection element per battery.
    6. Multiple batteries may only be connected in series only if they feed a single circuit and each battery has a battery management system with under-voltage-lockout.
    7. Teams are responsible for the proper disposal of any compromised electrical components and/or batteries.
    8. Teams should store batteries in fireproof bags (ie Lipo storage bag).
  4. Each circuit must include separate circuit protection.
    1. The current rating of this protection must not exceed the lesser of:
      1. The current rating of the devices powered by the circuit, or 2 Amps for lower-current circuits;
      2. The safe current-carrying capacity of the smallest connectors or conductors in the circuit.
        1. Use this document as a guide for continuous current.
        2. In Drumheller the ambient temperature is 40 Celsius, where in CIRC Central and Niagara falls it will be 30C.
        3. The ambient temperature inside your rover is likely 20C higher than outdoors, depending on cooling strategy, rover material, paint colour, and other factors.
    2. The connections between your battery and any distribution board/panel are a circuit, and must be protected as such. Off the shelf battery management systems (BMSs) are allowable here, and are the only exception to the ban on protection systems that rely on software.
  5. Ventilation and heat dissipation concerns should be considered when installing power sources, high-current devices, and high-current wiring.
  6. Precautions against short circuits and electric shocks must be observed:
    1. Each battery must be securely mounted to a suitable structural element of the rover, and should be protected against collisions or roll overs during rover operation.
    2. All electrical wiring and connections must be insulated, taped over, or securely mounted within enclosed rover bodywork.
    3. All conductive objects within enclosed rover bodywork must be securely mounted to avoid contact with electrical connections.
    4. All electrical connections, wires, and traces should be insulated to prevent accidental short circuits.
    5. All electrical connections must be routed away from mechanical pinch points. The full range of motion available to the rover will be considered when evaluating pinch points.
    6. Hard stops should be used to limit mechanical movement and reduce pinch points
    7. Structural and mechanical elements of the rover must not be used as part of any electrical circuit.
    8. All power sources should be disconnected before servicing rover electrical systems.
    9. For the winter competition, all electronics should be within a waterproof container, or themselves be waterproof.
    10. For the summer competition, insulation and drainage should be considered.
  7. Sufficient documentation must be provided to prove the safety of your rover before you will be allowed to compete.
    1. You may submit partial or full documentation at any time for review and approval by the organizers. We recommend submitting potential designs early in the process if you have any concerns about whether they are compliant.
    2. You must submit a full copy of your documentation by January 15th, 2024 for review and approval. If your design is not compliant for this deadline, you will be allowed to revise and resubmit before a second deadline, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
    3. Upon arrival at the competition, you will be required to submit a final hard-copy of your documentation, and your rover will be inspected for compliance to the requirements and consistency with the submitted documentation.
    4. A complete circuit diagram (block-level schematic) of the rover, including all power sources, circuit protection, and power-consuming devices, must be presented at CIRC sign-in.
    5. The documentation diagram should be updated to reflect ongoing changes during CIRC.
    6. The current hard copy of your documentation the diagram must accompany the rover to CIRC tasks.
    7. Related low-current devices on the same circuit may be grouped into black-box subsystems to reduce the complexity of the diagram.
    8. Each power source, circuit protection element, circuit, and device/device group in your documentation on the diagram must be identified annotated with a short name and current rating.
    9. Evidence of claimed current ratings must be provided in the documentation package.
    10. Acceptable evidence includes datasheets, industry standards, or test reports. Product pages or website screenshots are not acceptable.
    11. The documentation package must be accessible to judges at all times.
    12. A block-level schematic must be included in the documentation, and the layout of the schematic circuit diagram should reflect the physical layout of the rover wiring harness where possible.
    13. Related low-current devices (less than 2A total) on the same circuit may be grouped into black-box subsystems to reduce the complexity of the diagram.
    14. Each power source, circuit protection element, circuit, and device/device group in your documentation on the diagram must be identified annotated with a short name and current rating.
    15. A photograph of the emergency stop button mounted on the rover must be included.
  8. After any safety-related incident, your rover must pass a re-inspection before being allowed to continue competing. The re-inspection will include a discussion of the cause, and measures taken to prevent recurrence.
    1. Safety incidents include but are not limited to unprotected shorts, exposed or damaged wiring, battery damage, or any emission of smoke, fire, or sparks.
    2. A blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker is not a safety incident.

Commentary and changes:

  • The rules around mounting of the emergency stop button are now more strict to ensure the buttons can be easily pressed by judges, and a photograph is required as part of the report.
  • After several instances of dangerously discharged batteries we now require under-voltage lockout.
  • We’ve updated our recommended wiring guide to one that provides corrections factors based on temperature, and set some expectations about choices of ambient temperatures.
  • We’ve clarified our expectations about insulated connections on the rover.
  • We will now be strictly enforcing rule 7.10 for safety related components, such as batteries and battery management systems, circuit protection, and emergency stop components.
  • There is a new winter requirement related to waterproofing.