DARPA Announces Teams Qualifying for Subterranean Challenge Virtual Competition Finals

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Twelve teams have qualified for the DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Virtual Competition Final Event, to be held September 21-24, where $1.5-million of prizes are at stake. Their algorithms will guide virtual versions of real robots as they drive or fly through unfamiliar simulated underground courses and locate items of interest such as injured survivors, cell phones, backpacks, and even hazardous gas.

The virtual robots are chosen from the SubT Tech Repo including models with various sensor payloads, many of which are identical to those used by teams competing in the physical Systems competition. Teams are each able to mix and match robots to create their virtual squad.

The contest will be held simultaneously with the SubT Challenge Systems Competition Finals, at which real robots will navigate underground environments in search of artifacts at the Louisville Mega Cavern (teams qualifying for the Systems Competition were announced in May). Both the Virtual and Systems events will involve elements of tunnel, urban, and cave environments. They also share challenge elements such as austere navigation, degraded sensing and communication, dynamic obstacles, and rough terrain.

“The SubT Challenge Virtual Competition is providing extremely valuable insights leading to robot innovations that will improve exploration in unique underground situations,” said program manager Timothy Chung. “The competition is fun, but it is also pushing boundaries and creating new tools – both for research and field implementation – that will be used well after this event.”

The teams that qualified for the Virtual Competition at the SubT Challenge Final Event are:

    • KANKANWADI PTY LTD, Australia
  • Andersons
    • MRSL Real-time Systems Lab
  • BARCS: Bayesian Adaptive Robot Control System (DARPA-funded)
    • Michigan Technological University/Michigan Tech Research Institute
  • COLLEMBOLA: Communication Optimized, Low Latency Exploration, Map-Building and Object Localization Autonomy
    • Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
  • Coordinated Robotics
    • Coordinated Robotics
  • CTU-CRAS-NORLAB: Czech Technical University – Center for Robotics and Autonomous Systems – Northern Robotics Laboratory
    • Czech Technical University, Czech Republic
    • Université Laval, Canada
  • Dynamo
    • Hilario Tomé, Spain
  • Flying Fitches
    • Sophisticated Engineering UG, Germany
  • MARBLE: Multi-agent Autonomy with Radar-Based Localization for Exploration
    • University of Colorado, Boulder
    • University of Colorado, Denver
    • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • RoboSwarms
    • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Robotika
    • Robotika International, Czech Republic and United States
    • Robotika.cz, Czech Republic
    • Czech University of Life Science, Czech Republic
    • Centre for Field Robotics, Czech Republic
    • Cogito Team, Switzerland
  • SODIUM-24 Robotics
    • Malcolm Stagg

Teams must submit their fully autonomous solutions to the SubT Virtual Portal by July 29 for the Preliminary Round. Results from these initial runs will be announced by August 13. The top teams will be invited to submit updated solutions for the Prize Round, which will be broadcast alongside the Systems Competition September 21-24.

There will be an awards ceremony September 24th at which teams in the Virtual Competition will be presented with prizes of $750,000 for first place, $500,000 for second place, and $250,000 for third place. All teams, whether self-funded or DARPA-funded, are eligible for the prize money.

DARPA will host media opportunities in Louisville on September 23 and 24. Interested journalists are encouraged to contact DARPA at outreach@darpa.mil for more information.