Space and robotics teams from post-secondary institutions, and their rovers, came to the Drumheller Valley to participate in the Canadian International Rover Challenge (CIRC) between Friday, August 13 and Monday, August 16.
This year will mark the fourth summer the CIRC was hosted in Drumheller, following continued growth since its inception in 2017 at Midland Provincial Park; no event was held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The 2021 event will be quite small, with four teams attending,” Kyle Epp with the CIRC Organizing Committee tells the Mail. “COVID restrictions have prevented many teams from preparing for the competition over the last year, and border restrictions prevent most of our international teams from competing this year.”
Despite fewer competitors, Epp notes with the Canada-U.S. border opening to vaccinated travellers, they are expecting one American team to be in attendance.
CIRC challenges teams to design and build a rover-a vehicle for exploring the surface of a planet or moon-to compete in a total of five tasks with both day and night components, across multiple locations throughout the Drumheller Valley.
Some of the challenges the rovers faced included navigating eight GPS locations through increasingly difficult terrain, and a simulated search and rescue mission.
On Monday, August 16 the teams and their rovers finished up the weekend competition with the Rovelympics, which included some fun tasks for the teams and rovers, such as a break dancing competition.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail