A look at DARPA's subterranean, autonomous systems

A video walking tour shows the mine where teams honed underground navigation and exploration technologies for unmanned systems.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Subterranean or SubT Challenge asked participants to use autonomous systems to quickly map, navigate and search underground environments such as human-made tunnel systems, underground mass transit and municipal infrastructure and naturally occurring cave networks.

Timothy Chung, the SubT Challenge program manager, offers a walking tour of the Colorado School of Mines’ Edgar Experimental Mine where the SubT Integration Exercise, known as STIX, took place in April. Nine teams hailing from four continents tested their autonomous air and ground systems for navigating the dark, dangerous, dirty and unpredictable underground domain. Teams scored points by successfully locating and identifying specific artifacts such as backpacks, cellphones, fire extinguishers and even mannequins equipped with thermal warmers.  

A version of this article first appeared on GCN, a sibling site of Defense Systems.