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Teams Will Test Technologies in DARPA Subterranean Challenge

Dept. of Defense

The DARPA Subterranean Challenge explores innovative approaches and new technologies to rapidly map, navigate, and search complex underground environments, including Edgar Experimental Mine. (Photo credit: Colorado School of Mines)

In early April, nine qualified teams will attempt to remotely navigate the dark and dirty corridors of Edgar Experimental Mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado, in preparation for the Circuits Stage of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Subterranean (SubT) Challenge. The SubT Integration Exercise, known as STIX, offers teams an opportunity to try out their technologies, including robotics, sensors and communications solutions, in a representative environment. locations for the Circuits Stage events have not been announced.

The Subterranean Challenge seeks to revolutionize how first responders and warfighters operate in human-made tunnel systems, urban underground settings, and natural cave networks that are too dangerous, dark, deep, and unknown to risk human lives. Teams are competing to develop breakthrough technologies that rapidly and remotely map, navigate, and search subterranean environments.

To qualify for STIX, teams were required to demonstrate baseline performance capabilities and appropriate safety measures. The participating teams and members are as follows:

CERBERUS (CollaborativE walking & flying RoBots for autonomous ExploRation in Underground Settings)

  • University of Nevada, Reno
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Flyability, Switzerland

CoSTAR (Collaborative SubTerranean Autonomous Resilient Robots)

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • KAIST, South Korea

CRAS (Center for Robotics and Autonomous Systems)

  • Czech Technological University, Czech Republic
  • Université Laval, Canada

CRETISE (Collaborative Robot Exploration and Teaming in Subterranean Environments)

  • Endeavor Robotics
  • Neya Systems

CSIRO Data61 (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia)

  • Emesent, Australia
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Explorer
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Oregon State University

MARBLE (Multi-agent Autonomy with Radar-Based Localization for Exploration)

  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • Scientific Systems Company, Inc.

PLUTO (Pennsylvania Laboratory for Underground Tunnel Operations)

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Exyn Technologies
  • Ghost Robotics


  • Robotika.cz, Czech Republic
  • Czech University of Life Science, Czech Republic

The SubT Challenge comprises two competitions: the Systems Competition, where teams will develop novel hardware solutions to compete in physical underground environments, and the Virtual Competition, where teams will develop software-based solutions to test in simulated scenarios.

Teams will compete in three preliminary Circuit events and a Final event pursuing high-risk and high-reward approaches. The Final event, planned for 2021, will put teams to the test with courses that incorporate diverse challenges from all three environments.

Teams in the Systems track will compete for up to $2 million in the Systems Final event, with up to $200,000 in additional prizes available for self-funded teams in each of the Systems Circuit events.

Teams in the Virtual track will compete for up to $1.5 million in the Virtual Final event, with additional prizes of up to $500,000 for self-funded teams in each of the Virtual Circuit events.

Other teams interested in participating in the SubT Challenge may submit their qualification materials to be eligible for future events. The next qualification deadline is April 22, 2019, to establish eligibility for the Tunnel Circuit in August. Requirements can be found in the SubT Qualification Guide available on the Resources Page.

Interested teams are also encouraged to join the SubT Community Forum, where they can engage with other participants and ask any questions. For additional information on the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, please visit www.subtchallenge.com.

To view the original press release on DARPA’s website, visit https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-01-22.

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