Darpa SubT Challenge 2018-2021
REVOLUTIONISING HOW WE OPERATE IN THE UNDERGROUND DOMAIN
The DARPA Subterranean or “SubT” Challenge is a US$3.5 million prize competition funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a prominent research organisation of the United States Department of Defence, which aims to explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, and search underground environments.
About the Challenge
Complex underground settings present significant challenges for military and civilian first responders. The hazards vary drastically across domains that can degrade or change over time and are often too high-risk for personnel to enter.
Teams from around the world were invited to propose novel methods for tackling these time-critical scenarios through unknown courses in mapping subsurface networks and unpredictable conditions.
The Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO’s Data61 was proud to be one of the seven teams selected to participate in the three-year-long challenge, taking part in the Systems Track.
“Participating in the challenge will drive the development of a range of technologies that are relevant to Australia, including autonomous mapping and inspection systems, and advanced communication systems for harsh indoor environments, such as underground mines”, Mr Fred Pauling, Robotics and Autonomous Systems group leader at CSIRO’s Data61, said at the time.
Teams develop and demonstrate physical systems to operate in live competitions on physical, representative subterranean courses, and focus on advancing and evaluating novel physical solutions in realistic field environments.
Teams compete in three circuit events that will explore the difficulties of operating in underground environments: tunnel systems, urban underground and cave networks.
Upon successful completion of Phase I and Phase II of the challenge, the CSIRO Data61 team has been selected as a finalist to compete in the DARPA SubT Challenge final event in September 2021!
CSIRO Data61 SubT Challenge Team
Our team is made of nearly 30 people from CSIRO’s Data61 Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group, students from QUT and the University of Queensland as well as two funded partners including the Georgia Institute of Technology, led by renowned robo-ethicist, Professor Ron Arkin and Emesent, a company spun out from our group at CSIRO.
We are not just the only Australian entity competing in the SubT Challenge, and one of only seven teams worldwide to receive funding of up to US$4.5 million from DARPA across the three-year challenge, but also the first and only Australian entity selected to compete in a DARPA Challenge final event.
CSIRO Data61 SubT Challenge Team’s Approach
We will create 3D maps of underground environments through LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanners mounted on legged robots as well as unmanned aerial vehicles which can fly in GPS-denied environments without a human controller.
Read about our team’s approach in detail here: Heterogeneous Ground and Air Platforms, Homogeneous Sensing: Team CSIRO Data61’s Approach to the DARPA Subterranean Challenge
All publications related to our team’s technology development can be found below:
- Heterogeneous Ground and Air Platforms, Homogeneous Sensing: Team CSIRO Data61’s Approach to the DARPA Subterranean Challenge (https://arxiv.org/abs/2104.09053)
- Virtual Surfaces and Attitude Aware Planning and Behaviours for Negative Obstacle Navigation (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9376244) Video: https://youtu.be/v6JdjS6xJ4s
- Online 3D Frontier-Based UGV and UAV Exploration Using Direct Point Cloud Visibility (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9235268)
- Bruce – Design and Development of a Dynamic Hexapod Robot (https://arxiv.org/abs/2011.00523) Video: https://youtu.be/CLs45hqUB0w
Teams compete in three preliminary circuit events plus a non competitive integration exercise and a final integrated challenge course 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.
- CHALLENGE COMPETITORS DAY – September 2018
- SubT Integration Excercise (STIX) – Golden, CO, USA – April 2019
- TUNNEL CIRCUIT – Pittsburgh, PA, USA – August 2019
- URBAN CIRCUIT – Elma, WA, USA – February 2020
CAVE CIRCUIT – August 2020(Cancelled due to Covid-19)
- Local Cave Event in lieu of cancelled Cave Circuit – Chilagoe, QLD, Australia – September 2020
- FINAL EVENT – Louisville, KY, USA – Sep 2021
See the full schedule here.
Below are some of our progress updates, stay tuned!
CSIRO Data61 Team finished 2nd in the DARPA SubT Challenge!
Sep 28, 2021
The CSIRO Data61 Team, formed by CSIRO, Emesent and Georgia Tech have finished second in the DARPA SubT Challenge! This […]
IEEE Spectrum’s Evan Ackerman had a Q&A with the CSIRO Data61 DARPA SubT Challenge team Principal Investigator Navinda Kottege
Sep 21, 2021
How have you been preparing for the SubT Final? Test, test, test. We’ve been testing as often as we can, […]
CSIRO Team Representing Australia in the Equivalent of an Olympic Finals for Robotics
Sep 10, 2021
Experts from around the world have spent the past three years pushing the boundaries of autonomous robotic technology to map, […]
How we ran our own DARPA-Style Cave Challenge by IEEE Spectrum
Dec 3, 2020
In preparation for the DARPA SubT finals, our DARPA Subterranean team has found a cave to test its robots. Read […]
DARPA Subterranean Challenge Cave Circuit event concluded!
Nov 11, 2020
The CSIRO Data61 team competing in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge recently concluded its own Cave Circuit event. Unfortunately the official […]
Wildcat SLAM receives 2020 CSIRO DNFC Awards for Science Excellence
Sep 17, 2020
Our Wildcat team is honoured to have received the 2020 CSIRO DNFC Award for Science Excellence! Wildcat is a new software package that uses LiDAR (light […]
DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO’s Data61 August 2020 Update
Aug 30, 2020
Our team was thrilled to learn from DARPA’s SubT Challenge program manager Dr Timothy Chung that we have qualified for Phase III of funding to continue in the competition. We were […]
A behind the scene story about our team during the DARPA SubT Urban Circuit by IEEE Spectrum
Jul 27, 2020
Evan Ackerman from IEEE Spectrum compiled some curious ‘behind the scenes’ stories not seen on the live stream of the […]
Watch ICRA2020 Workshop – CSIRO’s Dynamic Hexapod: Development and Deployment in the DARPA Subt Challenge
Jun 30, 2020
In this talk, Nick Hudson, our Senior Principal Research Scientist, describes the development and deployment of our dynamic hexapod robot […]
DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO’s Data61 June 2020 Update
Jun 23, 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. […]
Resourceful Magazine: Robots boldly go underground to fly the flag by Tony Heselev
Apr 23, 2020
Writing for ‘CSIRO’s Resourceful Magazine Issue 20: Decoding digital in mining,’ Tony Heselev describes in detail how CSIRO’s robots can […]
DARPA Subterranean Challenge Urban Circuit – it’s a wrap!
Mar 3, 2020
Congratulations to our DARPA SubtChallenge team along with our partners Emesent and Georgia Institute of Technology for placing 4th on […]
How Robotics Teams Prepared for DARPA’s SubT Challenge: Urban Circuit by IEEE Spectrum
Feb 20, 2020
In a recent article by Evan Ackerman on IEEE Spectrum, teams competing in the DARPA SubtChallenge Urban Circuit answered three […]
DARPA Urban Circuit – 2 weeks to go!
Feb 3, 2020
Our robot team has already hit the road headed to Satsop Business Park in Elma, Washington for the DARPA Urban […]
For curious little minds: How Robots Explore Underground Worlds?! SCOPE TV
Jan 29, 2020
Late last year, our team met with the SCOPE TV crew from Network 10 to show young audiences how our […]
DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO December 2019 update
Dec 11, 2019
After finishing in fifth place (out of 11 competing teams) in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Tunnel Event in Pittsburgh, USA […]
Team CSIRO Data61 have moved to Phase II of the DARPA SubTChallenge – the Urban Circuit
Sep 9, 2019
Team CSIRO Data61 have moved to Phase II of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge – the Urban Circuit. Huge congratulations to […]
CSIRO’s Data61 team finished 5th on the DARPA Tunnel Circuit
Aug 27, 2019
After action-packed days competing in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Tunnel Circuit at the NIOSH mine in Pittsburgh, USA, our team […]
Robots working with little human interaction – our approach to the DARPA SubTChallenge
Aug 19, 2019
While our team competes in Pittsburgh at DARPA SubTChallenge, hear first hand from our team lead Dr Nicolas Hudson how […]
It’s (robot) teamwork
Aug 15, 2019
Our DARPA Subterranean Challenge team is on the ground in Pittsburg for the Tunnel Circuit, ready for the challenge of […]
Learn about our five robots on the way to the DARPA Tunnel Circuit
Aug 8, 2019
Computer World writes about our squad of robots headed to the US for the DARPA SubTChallenge Tunnel Circuit!
DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO July 2019 update
Jul 30, 2019
Our CSIRO Data61 SubT team continues to prepare for the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Tunnel Event in Pittsburgh, USA on the […]
Upcoming Event – DARPA Tunnel Circuit
Jun 4, 2019
Having qualified to participate in the Tunnel Circuit, our DARPA team is now preparing to remotely map, identify, and report […]
Our robots inside the DARPA STIX Mine
May 22, 2019
Our robots inside the DARPA STIX Mine DARPA has just released images of our robots inside the STIX Mine. We […]
DARPA STIX Event – Overview
May 1, 2019
The DARPA SubTChallenge STIX event that took place in early April provided a shakeout opportunity for competitors in advance of […]
DARPA STIX Event – We were there!
Apr 18, 2019
DARPA SubTChallenge STIX Event April 2019 In early April, our team plus other eight qualified teams attempted to remotely navigate […]
Why DARPA decided to make their next robotics challenge a subterranean one? – By IEEE Spectrum
Apr 18, 2019
Why DARPA decided to make their next robotics challenge a subterranean one? – By IEEE Spectrum On the ‘DARPA Subterranean […]
We qualified! – DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO December 2018 Update
Jan 25, 2019
We qualified! – DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO December Update December was a big month for the CSIRO SubT Challenge […]
DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO November 2018 Update
Dec 18, 2018
DARPA SubT Challenge – CSIRO November Update Our CSIRO SubT teams met recently to review their progress in preparation for […]
- The Register – Robots still suck. It’s all they can do to stand up – never mind rise up
- IEEE Spectrum – DARPA Prepares for the Subterranean Challenge Final
- ABC TV Catalyst – Mars: Our second home?
- IEEE Spectrum – Australian Team Running Its Own DARPA-Style Cave Challenge to Test Robots
- IEEE Spectrum – A behind the scene story about our team during the DARPA SubT Urban Circuit
- Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics: PIA hosts CSIRO Data61
- IEEE Spectrum – Late Nights, Cool Hacks, and More Stories From the DARPA SubT Urban Circuit
- GeekWire – Robots and their masters take over nuclear plant for DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge
- IEEE Spectrum – How Robotics Teams Prepared for DARPA’s SubT Challenge: Urban Circuit
- Inside Robotics – Aussie team to get down and dirty in underground robotics challenge
- Computer World – Meet the Aussie robot squad heading underground in the DARPA challenge
- IEEE Spectrum – DARPA Subterranean Challenge: Meet the First 9 Teams
- Computer World – What lies beneath: CSIRO robots rise to DARPA’s subterranean challenge
- Business Insider – The CSIRO won up to $6.2 million to develop a cave-exploring robot for the US military’s research agency
- Spacial Source – Data61 to compete in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge
- PACE Today – CSIRO robotics group competes in US subterranean challenge
- Csiroscope – From science fiction to robot reality
- MIT Technology Review, Three robot advances that’ll be needed for DARPA’s new underground challenge
- Homeland Preparedness News, DARPA selects participants for competition to advance understanding of underground operations
- International Mining, CSIRO’s Data61 competing in DARPA Subterranean Challenge
- Yahoo! Finance, The CSIRO won up to $6.2 million to develop a cave-exploring robot for the US military’s research agency
- Mining Magazine, Mapping the underground with drones, legged robots
- Scimex, Unlocking the underground with airborne and legged robots
- Manufacturers’ Monthly, CSIRO team to compete in US robotics challenge
- Safe To Work, CSIRO to develop robotics technology for underground terrains
- CIO, What lies beneath: CSIRO robots rise to DARPA’s subterranean challenge
- Australian Manufacturing, CSIRO-led team earns spot at US robotics competition
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