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First robot around Olympus Mons wins!
  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
  [vote for,

The robotic explorers of Mars face a number of challenges. Beyond the obstacles in the terrain, communication is slow and limited, and the orbit of Mars provides little energy for solar panels. A rover simulator could allow players to take on these challenges and challenge each other for the fastest time through a given course.

Players would be given a set of waypoints to reach on a virtual rover mission. Before each mission, there could even be a design phase allowing the players to pick a landing site and design basic elements of the rover within certain real-world constraints. There would be a set of standard rover commands and maybe even the ability to customize the virtual rover's software.

Gameplay would consist of a number of communications passes. Each pass would take a set amount of time and the players would prepare their rover commands before every pass. There would be a simulated communications delay anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes forcing players to anticipate disaster.

Each rover would have to spot the virtual boulders, sand traps, and cliffs with a still camera, and there would be satellite maps to help out. For extra realism, hazards like dust storms, cosmic rays, and rover malfunctions could be added.

Optimally, the simulation would run on a web server to open the game to the widest possible audience, but making the server render all the graphics might be too difficult to scale.

Just a regular old rover simulator might be fun too, but adding competitive elements would attract more interest in the game. You could make it full-contact with rovers jostling for position within a narrow pass, or just include a top scores list.

evildork, Aug 02 2009

Orbiter http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/
space flight simulator [evildork, Aug 02 2009]

Mars Rover Simulator http://www.brainblock.com/nasa.asp
[evildork, Aug 02 2009]


       [-] I didn't realise that this was only going to be a simulation. Where's the fun in that?
pocmloc, Aug 02 2009

       pomloc: I wouldn't want it to be just a simulation either. It's just not fun enough! I should have placed more emphasis on competition in my original writeup.   

       It would be fun to try to tip other rovers over with a robotic arm. Maybe make it a demolition derby instead of a race.   

       You could also try to trap your competitor's solar panels in the shadow of your own rover to drain their batteries.
evildork, Aug 02 2009

       I'm thinking N-Prize II - race across Mare Imbrium.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 02 2009

       First robot to blow up Olympus Mons wins!
sninctown, Aug 02 2009


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