As part of the very first event in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge (SubT), the organizers have invited nine teams (and their robots) to Edgar Experimental Mine in Idaho Springs, Colo., for a sort of test run called the SubT Integration Exercise, or STIX. These nine teams have already demonstrated their systems to DARPA, showing that they can navigate autonomously over rough terrain, locate objects, and respond to an e-stop command if they go berserk.
For the teams, this will be an opportunity to test out their robots in an actual tunnel system, and at the same time DARPA itself will be able to make sure all of their testing infrastructure and whatnot works, well in advance of the Tunnel Circuit Challenge itself, which will take place in August.
Our detailed post on SubT and interview with DARPA program manager Timothy Chung cover all of this stuff, along with the guidelines that teams have to follow when designing and deploying their systems, but all that information doesn’t necessarily give a sense of what kind of hardware teams will likely be deploying at SubT. Fortunately, many of the teams participating in STIX have posted pictures or videos of their robots, so we’ve put together this article to introduce each team and have a look at what they’ll be working with.
Some of these videos appear to be part of earlier qualification submissions for SubT and STIX, while others are just examples of the kinds of capabilities that team (or members of teams) have in the context of underground robotics. We’re expecting to see much, much more over the next few weeks and months as teams return from STIX and start working towards the first Tunnel Circuit Challenge in August, but this should give you a reasonable idea of what kind of thing to expect.
Team CERBERUS: CollaborativE walking & flying RoBots for autonomous ExploRation in Underground Settings
- Autonomous Robots Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno
- Robotic Systems Lab and Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- Sierra Nevada Corporation
- High Performance Robotics Lab at the University of California, Berkeley
Team CoSTAR: Collaborative SubTerranean Autonomous Resilient Robots
- Robotic Aerial Mobility Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Burdick Group, CalTech
- Laboratory for Information & Decision Systems, MIT
- Unmanned Systems Research Group, KAIST, South Korea
Image: Team CoSTAR
Team CRAS: Center for Robotics and Autonomous Systems
- Center for Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic
- Boreal Robotics Laboratory, Université Laval, Canada
Team CRETISE: Collaborative Robot Exploration and Teaming In Subterranean Environments
Team CSIRO Data61
- Data61 Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group, CSIRO, Australia
- Emesent, Australia
- Mobile Robot Lab, Georgia Tech
- AIR Lab and Biorobotics Lab, CMU
- Robotic Decision Making Laboratory, Oregon State University
Team MARBLE: Multi-agent Autonomy with Radar-Based Localization for Exploration
- Autonomous Robotics and Perception Group and Bio-Inspired Perception and Robotics Laboratory, UC Boulder
- Electromagnetics and Plasma Physics Group, UC Denver
- Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
Team PLUTO: Pennsylvania Laboratory for Underground Tunnel Operations
- GRASP Lab, University of Pennsylvania
- Exyn Technologies
- Ghost Robotics
- Robotika.cz, Czech Republic
- Czech University of Life Science, Czech Republic
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Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.