Author profile picture

Team Makercie of the University of Groningen has won the remote European Rover Challenge (ERC) in Poland. A three-day event in which student teams from all over the world compete. On a special Mars-like circuit (the so-called Mars Yard) the participants have to perform various tasks from real NASA and ESA missions, using a Mars Rover on site or remotely. The team from the UG remotely competed from the Zernike Campus. Makercie is the first team of a Dutch University to participate in the ERC, says the university (RUG) in a press release.

  • The RUG team is the first Dutch team to participate in this three-day competition, where student teams from all over the world test their self-designed Mars rovers on a special Mars circuit.
  • The winning team consisted of nearly fifty students from thirteen different countries, representing various fields of study, including Artificial Intelligence, Physics, Law, and International Business.


The competition focuses on programming and navigating the rover rather than building it. The main motivations for the students to participate are the drive to prove themselves and to inspire a new group of students. Participant Helena (third year student in the Bachelor Physics) says that the competition gave team members the opportunity to develop their skills at a fast pace: “We only started seriously preparing for the competition in March. Despite the fact that we didn’t have the experience to start out with, our drive led us to learn everything we could for the competition in a really short time. The fact that we won shows how far motivation can get you.”

Worldwide competition

Teams participating in the remote competition all use standardized equipment that allows them to connect via the internet from anywhere on earth. Helena explains the design of the Rover was given to them: “We had to 3-D print it and assemble the electronics ourselves.” After two rounds, we ended up in the last competition round with 15 other teams.


The winner of the competition is the one who most reliably prepares the software needed for the mission. Additionally, it is necessary to demonstrate strong capabilities in team management, responding to critical situations and change management. Helena: “Since we are a new team, we are very happy that we succeeded against other more experienced and established teams. Winning this challenge makes us even more enthusiastic about developing the team in the future and participating in other competitions. We want our team to become a place for anyone who’s interested in space or robotics.”