CIRC 2024 Winter Competition Tasks

Welcome to CIRC 2024! This competition is designed to challenge students to design, build, and operate a rover that can navigate and complete tasks on a simulated Martian surface alongside human settlement. These tasks are intended to be challenging and will require teams to use their problem-solving skills and technical knowledge to succeed. The following task descriptions and guidelines have been established to ensure a fair and safe competition for all participants. Please read through these descriptions carefully to make sure that your design suitable to the tasks at the competition.

For information on the regulations of participating in CIRC, please see the 2024 Winter Rules document.

Task Rubrics and Scoring

Tasks are scored using the provided rubric available here. This may be useful for planning how to approach each task’s requirements and maximize scored points within the capabilities of the teams’ rovers.

Tasks are expected to be worth 100 points each, however longer tasks may have more points allocated. Most tasks have bonus points available according to the rules, with exceptions to these bonues explained in the specific task descriptions below.

Winter Traversal


The planet’s surface is covered in dangerous terrain making navigation difficult. Deep crevasses are identified with automated warning signs. Your rover must follow a carefully marked path to safely reach home base and check that all the warning signs are intact.


  1. Rovers must travel across terrain and go through gates to stay in the safe zone.
    1. Gates will be marked by 2 poles with red flags
      1. The poles will be a minimum of 60 cm tall
      2. The poles will be a minimum of 1.5m apart
  2. Rovers must scan the warning signs and report what they say to the judge.
    1. Warning signs will consist of a single Aruco marker.
    2. See the autonomy guidelines section of the rules for more information about Aruco markers
    3. The signs will be posted within 3m of the gates
  3. There are 7 gates.
    1. All gates will have GPS coordinates.
    2. All gates must be visited in order.
    3. All gates must be traversed from front to back. The gates will be laid out so that traveling away from the previous gate and towards the next gate will be the correct orientation.
  4. Reaching and passing through the gates will involve traversing progressively more difficult terrain and avoiding obstacles.
  5. 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.
    1. Full points will be awarded if the Aruco scanning and detection software is running in the background and automatically displays the correct result when the Aruco marker comes within range and frame of the camera.

Ice Core Drilling: Sampling Task


Recent explorations have uncovered a site containing water ice. Preliminary surveying work has identified and marked three sites for potential wells. Your rover must carry out a more detailed exploration. Travel to and document each of these sites and collect an ice sample while avoiding hazardous patches of thin ice.

A map of the area showing the sample sites and hazardous regions will be provided prior to the competition.



  1. Travel to the three sample collection sites:
    1. Record the route taken using GPS waypoints.
    2. Navigate around the simulated regions of thin ice. Teams which enter these regions will be required to return to the point at which they went out of bounds (as designated by the judge) and three points will be deducted from their final score for each entry.
  2. At each site:
    1. Photograph the drilling site and the surrounding area.
    2. Record the GPS coordinates of the marked sampling area.
    3. Take a panorama photograph at the drilling site. A minimum of 180o is required, with 360o required for full points.
    4. Drill a test hole to a depth of at least 10 cm (maximum 20 cm) in the ice from the marked drilling area (the area will be <30 cm across). Collect the removed material for further analysis. Keep the samples from each site separate.
  3. Return all samples to the starting point.


  1. Following completion of the rover’s time on the task site, teams will have two hours (starting either when the team leaves the site or when the team’s task time is up, whichever comes first) to collate their findings, and write and submit a report of up to 2000 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. 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.
      2. Provide an explanation of why this route was taken.
    3. Report on sites:
      1. State the GPS coordinates recorded at each site.
      2. Show the panorama photograph of each site. Indicate the direction from which the site was approached.
      3. Describe the samples collected and comment on the composition.
      4. Provide a recommendation for the site of the main well based on your observations in the field and analysis of the samples.

Judge’s Commentary

  • When writing up your report, please include the following sections:
    • Abstract
    • Introduction
    • Results
    • Conclusion
  • Please be sure to include your team name in the document name
  • 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.
  • Differentiate between what your plan was and what you were able to accomplish.
  • Be honest about technical difficulties when writing the report. Acknowledge when things didn’t work. If something went wrong with your rover that prevented you from completing the task, please provide a brief explanation of what went wrong
  • 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.
  • Note that it’s a rover competition, and only observations and data acquired from on board the rover will be awarded points in the field section.
  • 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.

Avalanche Search and Rescue

Recent seismic activity on Mars has triggered an avalanche burying one of our astronauts. The surrounding slope and snow is unstable, and a rover has been sent out to help. The rover is tasked to uncover the astronaut and bring them back to base. The rover will also try to stabilize the slope.

Stage 1: The Rescue

  1. Your task is to locate the technician, uncover him, and if possible, drag him back to base.
    1. The suit has a WIFI access point, that provides the gps location of the technician (2.4Ghz)
      1. By connecting to this device, you will be able to access a web page showing the technicians current location
      2. See for more information.
    2. The astronaut can be dug or dragged out
    3. The astronaut is wearing a standard high visibility vest
    4. The suit also has a thermometer measuring the astronauts core temp that should be read as soon as possible and reported to the judge.
      1. A readable image of the thermometer will be sufficient
      2. Either as a JPEG or show the judge live on a video feed
    5. The astronaut is wearing a harness, with several possible attachment points
      1. Manual assistance to connect is possible, but with penalty
      2. Loop on a rope attached to technician also available
      3. Technician will weigh less than 5 kilograms
        1. About the size of a small child
    6. The astronaut needs to be brought back to the marked medical bay at base.
      1. The Astronaut’s temperature is dropping at a steady rate from 37C, and they must be brought back to the med bay before their temperature drops below 30C
      2. The temperature is dropping at a rate of 0.155C per minute.
      3. Some points will still be awarded if the astronaut is brought back to the medical bay after their temperature has dropped below 30C
  2. A further complication is that there is crevasses that must be avoided
    1. The locations of these crevasses is provided via GPS locations and paint around the edge of the crevasses
    2. Astronaut should not be dragged into the crevasse

Stage 2: Stabilize the Slope

  1. A slope stabilizer is at the base station, and must be installed to prevent additional slides
    1. Engineers on earth have analyzed the slope, and have sent your team the GPS coordinate where the stabilizer must be installed
      1. The device must be installed in the right area to be effective
    2. Once placed, 3 stabilizing legs are installed to the device
      1. Legs are 3 inch diameter PVC Pipes (3.25 inch OD), and push be pushed into the stabilizer leg holes
  2. The slope stability is declining. It must be stabilized within 60 minutes or there is a risk of an additional avalanche.


  1. For both tasks points will be awarded for programmatically collecting the GPS location. (Scanning and connecting to the WIFI access point, gathering the GPS location)
  2. For both tasks points will be awarded for autonomously driving to and from each site (GPS location within 3 Meters)

Arm Dexterity


The new settlement needs a reliable power source. New components are on the way, but it will take months or even years to arrive. Spares and parts of the old power source have been salvaged, and luckily there appear to be enough components to configure a new system. These panels were originally designed for human operation, however, due to the earlier damage, it is no longer safe for humans to manipulate the controls. It is up to your team to use their rover to complete the task and configure the system to get power for the settlement back online.


  1. Complete all phases of the task by following steps in the instruction manual and instructions given by either the System Monitor Panel display or System Monitor Panel diagnostic port to return all control panels to operational status.
  2. Confirm all panels are operational by interpreting the control panel readouts and displayed information or by optionally reading the System Monitor Panel diagnostic port data.
  3. Avoid damage to the panels from using excessive force with the controls. Impacts and other movement greater than approximately 2G acceleration or 100N force will trigger sensors which will initiate a safety shutdown.

Documentation Provided

  1. Dimensioned diagrams (PDF) (DWG) of the control panels
  2. Example of how to optionally interface with the diagnostic serial port on the System Monitor Panel. The diagnostic port may be used to download status reports, instructions, and use the onboard diagnostics to bypass steps. For electrical information see the Notes below.
  3. Instruction manual explaining how to initiate each phase of the task and interpret status lights. Note that complete instructions will be shown on the System Monitor Panel display during the task and this manual will also be available on paper during the task.
  4. Diagram of provided tools found by the salvage team.

Tools Provided

  1. Simple tools to manipulate buttons as required. See documentation for information. Teams may provide their own tools suited to the task.


  1. General:
    1. The rover must be able to move between all 4 control panels to complete the task.
    2. Panels will be separated by at least 1m. The rover must be able to traverse relatively smooth and level terrain between panels.
    3. Controls will be located at heights between 0.3m and 1m above the ground. Detailed positions of controls are shown in the documentation.
    4. Some controls require tools to operate. For example, some steps may require two buttons to be pressed at once or may require a safety guard to be lifted. In order to facilitate this for most rovers, simple tools are provided on the ground at the starting area which may be picked up by the rover. Teams are welcome to bring their own, but these will be counted towards the weight of the rover. As these are counted in the weight, teams have freedom in how the tools are positioned or attached to the rover at the beginning of the task.
    5. All panels have an accelerometer which will reset the panel if excessive movement greater than approximately 2g or 100N force is measured.
  2. System Monitor Panel (Located in the top-right of the Fuel Control Panel)
    1. A 200x100mm display to show the current system status and provide instructions for proper operation of the other panels.
    2. 2 buttons for menu interaction with the display.
    3. 3.3V TTL serial Diagnostic Port (115200 bps 8N1) on a 3 pin female connector. Note: this connector is the common “XLR” type found in audio equipment. Be aware, some off-the-shelf XLR cables may not be appropriate due to the grounding of the cable.
      1. The diagnostic port on the System Monitor Panel will allow the teams to bypass some steps or read diagnostic information more quickly than the display or other status lights.
      2. Teams may use a cable or create a wireless device to stay connected to the diagnostic port as they work on other panels.
      3. The port does not supply power.
      4. The connector has a latch which can be disconnected by pushing a tab.
        1. Disconnecting from the receptacle will not be required to complete the task, but completing the task with all equipment returned to a clean state is worth a small amount of points. See the overall task rubrics for information.
        2. Custom connectors on the robot do not need to use the latch if desired.
      5. See here for a diagram of the connector.
  3. Startup Panel
    1. 9 pushbuttons in a grid, with status lights.
    2. This panel was designed to be operated by a human, and will require pressing multiple buttons simultaneously. This may optionally be completed by using the provided tool.
    3. Instructions to correctly manipulate the panel will be provided on the System Monitor Panel display.
  4. Fuel Control Panel
    1. 4 ON-OFF Toggle Switches with status lights
    2. 15 pushbuttons arranged in a triangle with status lights.
    3. Instructions to correctly manipulate the panel will be provided on the System Monitor Panel display.
  5. Performance Tuning Panel
    1. Joystick with status light
    2. Rotary Switch with status lights arranged in a circle around the panel
    3. Pushbutton with status light
    4. Instructions to correctly manipulate the panel will be provided on the System Monitor Panel display.

Autonomy Points

  1. Autonomy points will be awarded for automatic completion of individual steps within the task. These steps will be noted in the task rubric. It is not expected to complete the entire task autonomously from start to finish.
  2. There will be 3 attempts at autonomy points allowed.
  3. To be eligible for autonomy points, teams must navigate to and manipulate panels (e.g. press buttons) without manually positioning the robot or the robotic arm. For example, a team may use computer vision to identify and press buttons or more simply execute pre-programmed movements.
  4. The team must inform the task judge when they will attempt autonomously interacting with the panels.
  5. No points will be awarded if the rover must be manually positioned to interact with the panel. The task judge can clarify if they feel the rover has been positioned in a way that invalidates the autonomy attempt. Also note, an intervention may not be used to position the rover anywhere except the starting position.
  6. No points will be awarded for unnecessary steps, such as pressing buttons that are not required for that phase of the task.
  7. Refer to the provided documentation including diagrams with positions of buttons and controls for planning autonomous steps.