What is IRPL

In the long run, IPRL aims to be a student-run space robotics research lab here at Imperial, but for this, we need to gain experience and recognition. Our first goal is to create a ~50kg full-size rover and compete in European Rover Challenge 2023. Imperial Planetary Robotics Lab was founded in August 2022.

oh boy was it a lot of work throughout this time”

Filip Szczebak – 2022
Filip and Mateusz at the European Rover Challenge 2022

Way back in September, two of us went ‘undercover’ as volunteers to work at the European Rover Challenge in Kielce, Poland and met other rover teams from all around the world. We received a lot of support and good wishes from other students and with lots of new experiences, we started the rover project at Imperial.

After a few recruitment events, the Avengers assembled as a team of 11 people and off we went to work…

IPRL team 2022

Baby Rover & Baby Rover Arm

Our first task was (and still is) to create the Baby Rover: a small-scale rover to test electronics and software on while the large one (named “Harbinger) is in development. We did have a few lessons learned and the wheels broken and the Baby attempted its first drive before Christmas with new motors. Meanwhile, a team of 3 started designing the Baby Rover Arm, making very quick progress.

While the Baby was being built, Harbinger was not left behind. As it is a complex system, we have partnered with Valispace to maintain a good requirements base (39 and counting so far) and allow our systems engineering team to have a constant track of the rover’s systems and tests.

So far the detailed design of the robotic manipulator has started as well as prototyping for the communications subsystem, we are also nearing the end of the conceptual design for the suspension and the electronics (+ a cardboard mockup). Over the winter break, we placed some purchase orders to start manufacturing when we come back.

Harbinger is currently on track to have its first simplified drive before the end of the 2nd term!

For any enquiries about IPRL contact Filip Szczebak at filip.szczebak20@imperial.ac.uk and find IPRL on Instagram @imperial_planetary_robotics

Written by Filip Szczebak, edited and published by Ivan Revenga Riesco