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Husky Robotics delivers at the 2021 Virtual University Rover Challenge

By Andy Freeberg
June 21, 2021

A crowd of 12 people in masks stand in a group outdoors behind a robot that looks like a mars rover

The UW Husky Robotics team finished as the top U.S. team in the 2021 Virtual University Rover Challenge. Photo by Andy Freeberg / University of Washington

After a 3-foot daredevil free fall, Husky Robotics’ Hindsight rover nailed the landing and made a full recovery to earn the only perfect score in the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery portion of the 2021 Virtual University Rover Challenge (URC). With the help of those points, the team took the top score by any U.S. team in the competition and third overall following two days of events on June 5 and 6. See the full results.

"It was an engineering challenge to get this one-meter drop to work,” says Dylan Klavins, Chassis Lead for Husky Robotics. “We figured out the kinematics of the fall shortly before competition and had our dedicated team prepare this sort of spoiler-looking roll bar out of whatever we had on hand. When we drove off the ramp we had to brace for broken electronics and an imminent rebuild of the arm, yet our solution managed to easily break the fall."

The successful finish offered a high point to cap off a difficult year.

Normally URC teams test their rovers against rivals in the Mars-like environs of the Utah desert. Due to COVID-19, this year Husky Robotics instead set up their missions on a UW recreation field following detailed instructions from the URC judges. The competition included three missions: Equipment Servicing, Autonomous Navigation, and Extreme Retrieval and Delivery.

Though Husky Robotics encountered challenges with the first two missions, they made up for it with their stellar showing in Extreme Retrieval and Delivery. That mission was comprised of a series of six tasks, ending with a trip up a 30-degree incline and a dangerous 3-foot drop. Husky Robotics was the only team to attempt the uncontrolled descent and their gamble paid off. Watch the rover make its descent or see photos from the event.

10-second animated image showing a mars rover-like robot rolling slowly up a wooden ramp while onlookers watch

Husky Robotics earned a perfect score of 100 points for completing six out of six tasks in the Extreme Retrieval and Delivery mission at the 2021 URC. Here the Hindsight rover climbs a 30-degree ramp up to 3 feet above the ground. Video by Andy Freeberg / University of Washington

Following their success in the URC, the team hopes to bring Hindsight to compete in person at the Canadian International Rover Challenge in Drumheller, Alberta, if conditions allow for international travel.

Find out more

Visit Husky Robotics to learn more about the team.