DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO’s Data61 June 2020 Update

June 23rd, 2020

After successfully finishing in 4th place at the DARPA SubtChallenge Urban Circuit in Washington, USA this past February, our team is now busily preparing for the next event, the Cave Circuit, scheduled for Q4 2020. 

A new small-tracked robot is being built to replace our existing solution. The new design is expected to provide a faster, more robust platform with high power to weight ratio, stability on 45-degree slopes/stairs and a 3m/s maximum speed. 


 The team are working on many software improvements, including: 

  • Agents that explicitly coordinate with each other to distribute and assign tasks effectively, allowing more efficient exploring, search coverage and task completion. 
  • Introduction of submaps to our global map solution. These submaps are added to root node SLAM frames by the local navigation system and allow global navigation to leverage this pre-computed data. 
  • Improved simulation world with high fidelity models that better represent the behaviour of tracks over uneven ground. 
  • Optimisations to our Mule network backbone technology to provide improved map sharing whilst lowering bandwidth requirements. 
  • Improved detection and identification of competition artefacts by actively tasking agents to “hunt” items of interest whilst analysing associated data over time. 
  • Addition of LiDAR based object detection. 
  • Significantly improved operator interface. 
  • Colorization of LiDAR data can be presented to the operator in real-time with an increased density of display. 

The video below shows one of our colourised point clouds captured during the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Urban Event in Washington, USA, February 2020.  

Points and images captured mid-run using CSIRO’s CatPack are fused using PaintCloud software intelligently selecting the best scene representation producing a full-resolution coloured point cloud.  


This research was developed with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The views, opinions and/or findings expressed are those of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

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