Friday, August 17, 2018

DARPA - Subterranean Challenge

Earlier this year DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) announced the next Robotics Challenge. This challenge will be underground! They are looking for robots to be capable of exploring and mapping underground structures.  The challenge will have three subdomains: Man made tunnel systems, Urban Underground, and Natural Cave Networks.

The previous Robot Challenges included the original grand challenge of self navigating robots and more recently general robots for human activities.  NASA also recently completed a Robotics Challenge, and will have a new one starting later this year.  NASA Space Robotics Challenge 2

Both DARPA and NASA will have a track that allows for Virtual competition.  The simulation platform of choice is Gazebo part of the Open Source Robotics Foundation managers of the Robot Operating System ROS.

It is natural to think of the use cases and value an underground mapping robot capability could provide.  The recent search and rescue of the 12 boys in Thailand come to mind. Also, many science fiction movies show the future tech of a cave mapping robot, such as seen in the movie Prometheus.

It will be interesting to see the innovation that is spurred from these competitions.  Perhaps they will could find value in a Totally Not Evil Robot Army!

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