Autonomous Robots to Run Amok in Huge Kentucky Limestone Mine in September

DARPA ready for the SubT finals next month 6 photos
Photo: DARPA
DARPA ready for the SubT finals next monthSubT robots ready for the finalsSubT robots ready for the finalsSubT robots ready for the finalsSubT robots ready for the finals
In the week of September 20, the Louisville Mega Cavern will be the place where several teams of autonomous robots will be let loose as part of DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge (SubT). At the same time, separate software will be tested virtually to siphon the best of the best and grant the teams that worked on these solutions a total of $5 million.
The SubT, which came to be a couple of years ago, seeks to find robotic solutions that can be used to rapidly "map, navigate, and search underground environments during time-sensitive combat operations or disaster response scenarios.” There are both a physical and a virtual side of this quest.

In the physical world, the former Louisville Mega Cavern limestone mine in Kentucky, one of the largest in the U.S., will be the place where a total of eight teams will compete, both DARPA-funded and independent, for $3.5 million in total prizes. Among them, the mighty CERBERUS and the equally impressive Explorer.

On site, each of the competing robots (the full list of finalists can be found here) will have to prove they can navigate their way through complex, unknown underground environments in search of planted backpacks, cell phones, and even trapped survivors. All with the goal of seeing how such autonomous machines could be used by military and civilian organizations alike.

On the virtual front, ten other teams fight for a shot at some of the $1.5 million DARPA is throwing as prizes. They will have to do the same thing as their physical counterparts, only in a simulated cavern, in search of the same things, but also invisible gas.

DARPA plans to make a big spectacle of the entire competition final, and will broadcast both the Systems and Virtual Competition runs on SubTv. The winners of the competition will be announced on September 24.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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