NASA & AWS Fuelled Rover Innovation With AngelHack Through a Virtual Hackathon


Aerospace, Cloud Services



Virtual Hackathon

Martian terrain in yellow background with the craters on Mars. The image has virtual rovers on the surface of Mars.
Image By: AWS


registered participants




In 2019, AWS and NASA-JPL organized the Open Source Rover Challenge. The event was a four-month virtual hackathon where the participants were encouraged to leverage deep reinforcement learning to enhance the efficiency of navigating digital robot models within Mars terrain.


In 2019, the frontiers of robotic exploration shifted from dusty labs to global screens with the AWS JPL Open-Source Rover Challenge, hosted by AngelHack. This ambitious hackathon thrust nearly 3,000 developers from 85 countries into a simulated Martian landscape, challenging them to develop and train deep reinforcement learning (DRL) models that could autonomously navigate JPL’s Open-Source Rover. The stakes? Unlocking the secrets of self-driving rovers on Mars and contributing to the future of space exploration.


AngelHack rose to the challenge by designing and executing a dynamic platform that attracted nearly 3,000 participants from 85 countries.

  • Immersive Virtual Environment: Participants trained their DRL models on a meticulously crafted virtual Mars terrain, replicating real-world challenges and nuances.
  • Pre-built Rover Simulator: Access to the Open-Source Rover simulator eliminated hardware constraints, allowing participants to focus on refining their DRL algorithms.
  • Expert Guidance and Support: AWS and JPL provided invaluable assistance through webinars, tutorials, and one-on-one support sessions, empowering participants to navigate the complexities of the challenge.
  • Collaborative Community: AngelHack’s global platform fostered knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities, creating a vibrant environment where participants could learn from and inspire each other


The AWS JPL Open-Source Rover Challenge yielded remarkable results, pushing the boundaries of autonomous Mars exploration:

  • Groundbreaking AI Solutions: Participants developed sophisticated and diverse DRL models, showcasing the vast potential of AI in driving efficient and robust rover navigation.
  • Community-Driven Innovation: The hackathon fostered a thriving robotics and AI community, leading to impactful open-source contributions and inspiring new ideas for future Mars missions.
  • Open-Source Rover Enhancement: The winning DRL model was integrated into the Open-Source Rover project, empowering future builders with improved autonomous capabilities.
  • Global Talent Identification: AWS and JPL identified promising talent from the hackathon, opening doors for potential recruitment in future space exploration endeavours.


AngelHack, in collaboration with NASA & AWS JPL Open Source Rover Challenge, demonstrates the power of collaboration and open-source tools in advancing space exploration technology. It produced innovative solutions and fostered a passionate community.

Are you looking to create an impact in technology? Partner with us to run brilliant hackathons globally and derive ground-breaking solutions.

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