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Saturday, March 27, 2021

DARPA Subterranean Challenge

 Always intriguing, how can robotic systems autonomously navigate complex and messy environments, like virtual tunnels, caves, underground urban environments, or even the interiors of buildings or warehouses, to achieve some stated goals.     Often requiring sensing and mapping to aid as part of the challenge.   Can include collaborative challenges.  Obvious military and policing applications.


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ACM NEWS.  DARPA's Subterranean Challenge Scores

By R. Colin Johnson  Commissioned by CACM Staff

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has already awarded more than $3 million in funding and prizes to robot designers competing in its Subterranean Challenge (SubT) underground autonomous robotic vehicle contests.

For the last three years, DARPA has sponsored multiple underground circuit competitions for robotic hardware systems constructed by contestants and tested in real underground environments constructed by DARPA with rock, concrete, steel, wood, and dirt. Concurrently, DARPA has sponsored software robot competitions programmed by contestants and tested in virtual underground facilities constructed by DARPA with software simulations (akin to video games). So far, DARPA's SubT has successfully advanced the state of the art in making quick, accurate maps, as well as demonstrating the need for better cooperative skills among different types of autonomous robots.

"Regarding autonomy, robots have a range of control depending on their environment," said Sanjiv Singh, a consulting professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute and editor-in-chief of the journal Field Robotics. Singh said the journal " covers the areas where robots must operate outside of a controlled environment — like a warehouse — which includes the mining tunnels, urban underground facilities, and the geological caves featured in DARPA's Subterranean Challenge."  ... '

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