In a thrilling display of innovation and perseverance, Project Altair, a team representing Bangladesh, showcased their prowess at the 5th International Rover Challenge 2024 held at PSG Institute of Technology and Applied Research in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. Organised by the Space Robotics Society (SPROS), the competition drew teams from around the globe to demonstrate their skills in rover design and operation.
Preliminary round: Out of 40 estimated teams in the preliminary round, Project Altair secured an impressive sixth rank, a significant achievement for the team and the second-best rank by a Bangladeshi team in the history of the competition. The selection process was rigorous, considering scores from the International Rover Design Challenge 2023 and the preliminary System Design and Development Review (SDDR) report and video.
Final round: The final round comprised six missions, including four technical tasks and two project management challenges. Project Altair's exceptional performance earned them the prestigious Best Performance Award in the Astrobiology Expedition mission. This mission required the rover to collect samples from two different sites in the simulated Marsyard, analyse them chemically, and present a comprehensive analysis of the Marsyard based on environmental data and physical samples.
Team dynamics: Despite having over 100 members spanning three batches, only 14 members attended the event physically. The team operated with two wings: the technical wing, responsible for the rover's electrical system, mechanical build, programming, and scientific analysis module; and the managerial wing, overseeing logistics, finance, and public relations activities, including media and sponsorship.
Learning experience: Participating in the IRC 2024 emphasised the interdisciplinary nature of engineering projects and highlighted crucial aspects of project management. Project Altair recognised the importance of collaboration and adaptability in navigating the challenges of such competitions.
Challenges faced: The team acknowledged a significant challenge in their existing communication system. While they successfully adapted to the situation for the competition, Project Altair recognises the need for a permanent solution for future competitions. This experience underscores the continuous improvement and problem-solving mindset that drives the team's commitment to excellence.
As Project Altair continues to push boundaries and represent Bangladesh on the global stage, their journey at the 5th International Rover Challenge 2024 stands as a testament to the spirit of innovation and determination within the team.
Nayeb Hasin is president of IUT Robotic Society.