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DARPA Subterranean Challenge: Meet the First 9 Teams

Nine robotics teams are participating in an integration exercise for DARPA's Subterranean Challenge this weekend

2 min read
DARPA Subterranean Challenge
The DARPA Subterranean Challenge (SubT) will task teams of humans and robots to explore complex underground environments.
Image: DARPA

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

Team CoSTAR: Collaborative SubTerranean Autonomous Resilient Robots

NASA JPL SubT robotsImage: Team CoSTAR

Team CRAS: Center for Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Team CRETISE: Collaborative Robot Exploration and Teaming In Subterranean Environments

Team CSIRO Data61

Team Explorer

Team MARBLE: Multi-agent Autonomy with Radar-Based Localization for Exploration

Team PLUTO: Pennsylvania Laboratory for Underground Tunnel Operations

Team Robotika

  • Robotika.cz, Czech Republic
  • Czech University of Life Science, Czech Republic

[ DARPA SubT ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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