: A team of students from an engineering college in Ernakulam now have the chance to take part in an annual robotics competition to design a Mars rover to be held in the U.S.

The five-member team from Toc-H Institute of Science and Technology, Arakkunnam, said they would be the first team from a college in the State to take part in the University Rover Challenge. The task set before the teams competing in the contest is to design and build a rover that can assist human explorers in a potential expedition to Mars.

The students first heard about the University Rover Challenge when they took part in an annual CanSat competition for space-related design held in the U.S. last year.

“We started planning for the University Rover Challenge since then. We’re taking part in CanSat this year too,” said Muhammed Juhaim Ibnu Abdul Jabbar, one of the members of the team.

“Both competitions are aerospace-related projects and it was challenging for regular engineering students like us. But it happened with some faith and a lot of enthusiasm,” he said.

P.V. Abimanyu Nair, Jibin Jose, Anoop Nayak, and Joseph Stephen are the other members of the team. All five are final year B.Tech students. The team was also advised by faculty members Kiran George Varghese and Shajan K. Thomas.

Held annually in a desert in southern Utah, U.S., the University Rover Challenge sets certain tasks that the rover designed by the students has to perform.

For example, the rover should be capable of being operated remotely for a distance of up to 2 km.

The students were selected for the contest after submitting a design to the organizers of the competition, The Mars Society.

They are still working on the rover robot that they will take to the contest to be held in May.

The contest this year will feature 31 teams from six countries, including six other teams from India.