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NASA's Colorado Space Grant Consortium Present:


The Colorado Robotics Challenge


Important Update (March 12, 2020): 2020 Robotics Challenge Cancelled

Due to the COVID-19 virus, CU has suspended all University sponsored multi-day events. As a consequence, we have cancelled this year’s Robotics Challenge at Great Sand Dunes National Park. We know that this will be a big disappointment to all the students who have put so much hard work into designing and building their robots. Over the coming weeks, we are going to investigate other ways that your teams can demonstrate their robots, potentially through videos or local robotics challenges. However, given the uncertain nature of the steps that will be taken by CU-Boulder and other institutions to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we believe it will be several weeks before we know what, if anything, may be possible.


The 2020 Robotics Challenge will be held on Saturday April 11th, 2020 at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

A huge thanks to the National Park Service for the great forum to test and challenge our Robots!

 Congratulations to all the students who braved cold, wind, and even water to demonstrate their robots during the 2019 Challenge. Pictures from the 2019 event may be found here.

  Registration for the 2020 robotics challenge is now open at Register now, registrations are due by October 11, 2019.

New to the event? Check out this presentation to help you get started 

 If you have any questions please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (303) 492-5451.





2019-2020 Timeline

Team Registration: by October 11. Register online at

Team contact information: Please give us contact information for your team. We will use the email address you supply us with to send your team information and updates about the challenge. 

Meet and Greet Telecon: Week of October 14-18.  Kickoff Slides

Conceptual Design Reviews: Week of November 4-7 CoDR Slide Template

Subsystem Readiness Reviews: Week of December 2-6 SSTR Slide Template

 Integrated Subsystem Testing Review: Week of February 17-21 ISSTR Template Slides

Dunes Readiness Review: Week of March 23 to March 27

Robotics Challenge: April 11

COSCG Undergraduate Research Symposium: April 18 

 Pre-Challenge: Testing and Videos

The robots that successfully complete the most courses at the COSGC robotics challenge are able to do so because they’ve been extensively tested before ever arriving at the sand dunes. This testing includes testing all the functions that the robot needs to perform at the dunes, and in as close to the environment they will experience at the dunes (for example, outdoors, in the sand, in the sunlight and wind, etc.)

Here is a list of possible tests you can put your robot through (the list is non-exhaustive, you should do more!) Robotics_preliminary_challenges.pdf

A great way to document your testing is to shoot video of your test. This will allow you to review the functioning of your robot, and also makes a great way for you to show your test results in design reviews. An example video showing how to shoot a test is available at


Background Information

Who can participate? The event on April 11, 2020 is open to the public. While the Challenge is designed to engage students at COSGC institutions, there are limited spots for high school or middle school teams and folks with general interests in robotics can also get involved.  Enter a robot or come watch!  Previous years saw teams from many of Colorado's colleges and universities challenged to courses to simulate the challenges that the Mars rovers experience every day.  

Get Registered.   Register your team online at or at least your team captain now! Registrations are being accepted through October 11, 2019. No cost to get involved.  Register to receive information about the Robotics Challenge. You don't have to register a full team now. Mentors or team Advisors can register now and then update your team information when the team forms in the coming months. Teams provide their own hardware and travel to the event. 


Why a Robotics Challenge?

Continuing the legacy of the site of the Great Sand Dunes National Park as an ideal testing ground to simulate a Mars-like environment, Adams State University in Alamosa and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium are excited facilitate the annual event. Like engineers working on the Viking Landers in the 1970's, student from around the country challenge their creations to perform well on courses of various complexity - practicing their programming, troubleshooting, and quick thinking skills as robots move, avoid obstacles, navigate, and/or track a beacon to successfully maneuver obstacles.


This Challenge is designed to further robot development and challenge teams to learn about electronics, programming and operating in a difficult environment.  Our site, at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, is an excellent location for a simulated Mars mission. The terrain near the Sand Dunes creates an environment similar to what can be found on Mars. Participants should design their robots to function is a range of temperatures and natural terrain. There will be wind, ground vegetation, and other not-found-in-the-lab challenges which can render many sensors and movement systems non-functional. Sand has a way of rendering moving parts inoperative. The challenge the terrain presents are not trivial; it is the perfect outdoors laboratory where different ideas can be tested and evaluated.