The Canadian International Rover Challenge (CIRC) is a Mars Rover design competition, first held in 2017 in Drumheller, Alberta. This inaugural event was held by USST Alumni as a trial run, to gauge interest in a Canadian rover challenge. It was created with help from the organizers of the University Rover Challenge, who are creating the ‘Rover Challenge Series’, a worldwide series of rover competitions. The first event was a huge success, and a not-for-profit group under the name CSTAG (Canadian Space Technology Advancement Group) has been formed to lead and organize what is now planned to be an annual event.

Like URC, the event is designed to simulate an early colony on Mars, and Mars Rovers are controlled by humans to help with tasks. CIRC has five different challenges: Prospecting, Resource Extraction, Equipment Servicing, Search and Rescue, and Obstacle Course. These tasks are outlined in more detail below. There is also a final event called Rovelympics, an optional series of short tasks meant to be a fun event for everyone to see the rovers take on a variety of small but exciting challenges.  The Official CIRC Website can be found at the following link:


The team arrived in Drumheller last year with the two big additions to the new rover: custom designed wheels made entirely in-house, and a completely revamped autonomous navigation system.  The team drove the rover through the weekend, with only one minor problem with a wheel motor. With a great performance in all tasks, the team took 1st overall.



The purpose of this task is to survey an area, and retrieve soil samples for testing. To survey the area the team will take pictures of significant features, and eventually compose a report on the findings. The soil sample will be retrieved and brought back to base, where it will be analyzed for signs of life.


This task is similar to prospecting, however instead of choosing a location and taking a sample to analyze, the teams will be directed to a mining site where they will collect soil. This soil will then be taken to a receptacle for deposit. However, most importantly with this challenge, many points are given only if this task can be completed autonomously.

Rover Testing in Drumheller

Item Retrieval Task - CIRC 2017


This task requires the rover to perform a number of difficult and dexterous tasks. For CIRC 2018, the rovers will need to restore and repair a damaged resource processing site. Some of the restoration tasks include opening/closing valves, flipping switches, and replacing fuses.


A new task for 2018, the goal is to find an astronaut who has gone missing. The team must navigate to the astronauts last known location, as quickly as possible so that the astronaut may be saved. Further actions may be required upon finding the astronaut, including equipment repairs similar to Equipment Servicing. An added layer of difficulty is that this challenge will be performed at night.


The rovers will be tasked with navigating rugged terrain, including large rocks, sharp drops and steep hills. There are gates on the course where the rovers will travel through, and most points will only be awarded if the rover can complete this challenge autonomously. Thus, the rover will only be given the GPS Coordinates of the gates and must work out for itself how to reach them, while navigating the difficult terrain.