Team Bath Roving is an extracurricular competition team ran by students, as part of the wider Bath Space Society.
For the second year in a row, Team Bath Roving have placed first in the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) Olympus Rover Trials. They competed against six other university teams and organisations, including Kings College London and the UK Atomic Energy Authority. After the two-day event in July, this is the third win for Team Bath Roving (TBRo) in five years.
Members design and build a Mars rover for competitions such as the UKSEDS Olympus Rover Trials. The winning 2022/23 team was led by Kyle Magwood and had a membership of around 40 people.
Development of the champion rover started in October 2022, with a multi-stage application and design process throughout the academic year. The team would meet weekly to discuss progress until June of this year, when building started in the Mechanical Engineering Student Labs on campus. The team only had a budget of £500 for the competition.
On Saturday 22 July seven members of TBRo took their rover to Airbus’ Defence and Space Mars Test Yard in Stevenage. The task on the day was to deliver and receive cargo from five locations of various terrain and difficulty, whilst the rover was piloted from a control room. TBRo performed well, delivering more cargo than any other team with next-to-no problems. Their scoop and sweep design meant they could pick up cargo with less need for precision than the teams using a mechanical arm. Using what they had learnt in previous years, TBRo optimized the wheels so they worked very effectively in the loose sand of the test yard.
Four members took the rover to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Space’s facilities in Oxford the next day for a vibrations test. This tested the rover’s structure and strength, simulating the conditions of a rocket launch. Any broken parts or loss of function would mean deducted points from the previous day’s score. The rover was bolted to a test plate and vibrated across a range of frequencies to test each part of the rover in resonance. TBRo’s rover performed near perfectly with only one non-essential bolt coming loose and no loss of any rover functions. At the end of the day, TBRo was announced the overall winner of the competition.
On both days, participants were given a tour of Airbus and RAL Space, learning how UK engineering is contributing to the future of space exploration, and the challenges involved.
TBRo was founded in 2017 by Bath Space Society members. They provide opportunities for students to gain practical experience in engineering alongside their studies. This is invaluable – especially for first years – who can learn and develop their skills and bolster their CVs for placements in the future. They also show off their engineering and technical abilities by compete against other universities, showcasing the talent and skill the University of Bath fosters. By working on the rovers, they become part of the story of space exploration.
Work on the 2024 Olympus rover starts very soon, with TBRo looking for corporate sponsorship. TBRo also want to compete in new competitions such as the European Rover Competition in Poland and the University Rover challenge hosted in Utah, USA.