Asee peer logo

A Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Project: Development of an Autonomous Rover For Mars Exploration

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Design II

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Giancarlo D'Orazio University of the District of Columbia

visit author page

Giancarlo is a Mechanical Engineering major, class of 2020, at the University of the District Columbia.

visit author page


Jijuan Xu University of the District of Columbia

visit author page

Dr. Jiajun Xu, P.E. is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Department at University of the District of Columbia. His research interests are Micro/Nanoscale materials for thermal Transport and Energy Conversion, Mechanical Design, Water Treatment techniques, and Multi-scale simulation. His research has been funded by National Science Foundation, U.S. Army Research office, Office of Naval Research, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Geological Survey.

visit author page


Sasan Haghani University of the District of Columbia

visit author page

Sasan Haghani, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of the District of Columbia. His research interests include the application of wireless sensor networks in biomedical and environmental domains and performance analysis of communication systems over fading channels.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Very few problems in engineering only require the use of a single tool. According to the Washington Accord, skills to solve complex problems in engineering are important in the curriculum of engineering education. To provide more experiential learning experience to its students, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of the XXX is modernizing its curricula by offering complex engineering practices through curricular and extracurricular activities.

The design of autonomous vehicles requires input from nearly all STEM fields and hence provides an excellent opportunity for students from different engineering backgrounds to collaborate on such projects. During Summer of 2018, a group of students from Electrical, Mechanical, Civil and Computer Science departments at the University of the XXX were recruited to design and develop an autonomous rover for Mars exploration, supervised by two faculty members in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. An autonomous rover was designed, powered by solar energy and a custom lithium-ion battery array powering a primary electric motor, microcontrollers, steering motor, a linear actuator and a variety of sensors. To emulate the type of data an interplanetary rover may collect, the vehicle was outfitted with VOC and CO2 gas, humidity, temperature, and proximity sensors. Sensor data was transmitted from Arduino Megas to a computer via an XBee DigiMesh radio module. Two robotic arms, also powered by lithium ion batteries and compatible with an Arduino platform, were installed on each side of the rover and the robotic arms were programmed to maneuver remotely. Customized housings for the proposed sensors, robotic arms, and solar panel were designed using computer aided design software.

Through this practice, a multidisciplinary group of students were offered a unique opportunity to work closely on a tightly integrated system. Rather than assign distinct roles, the students cooperated on the development of all systems used on the rover. As such, team members often worked on problems outside their study area and gained valuable insight into creating something as complex as a Martian rover.

This paper gives details of the student’s design, their learning experiences and how experiential learning has been integrated into the engineering and computer science programs at the University of the XXX.

D'Orazio, G., & Xu, J., & Haghani, S. (2019, June), A Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Project: Development of an Autonomous Rover For Mars Exploration Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31976

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015