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The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been interested in the development of innovative technologies for the subterranean battlefield. The Subterranean Challenge (SubT) initiated by the agency aims to develop innovative technologies that would augment operations underground. It will explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, search and exploit three types of complex underground environments: human-made tunnel systems, urban underground, and natural cave networks.
The three-year challenge will put teams from all over the world to the test on courses that incorporate diverse elements from all three environments.
Endeavor Robotics, a provider of unmanned ground vehicles, has won a Phase 1 award to compete in the Challenge. The initial $1.5 million contract will fund the company’s efforts to develop a ‘system-of-systems’ technology solution to operate in underground environments, according to prnewswire.com.
“Endeavor’s history of cutting-edge research with DARPA led to our first battlefield robot, the PackBot,” said Tom Frost, Endeavor Robotics president. “From navigating cave complexes in Afghanistan to dense urban environments in the US, our robots have helped defense and police forces perform a wide range of subterranean missions for more than 15 years.”
The company’s novel approach will see it integrate its advanced robot platforms with the latest autonomy, robotics and communications technologies from its partners Neya Systems, Ghost Robotics, and Persistent Systems. The team will develop and demonstrate a physical system to compete in the tunnel systems circuit in the fall of 2019.
According to Endeavor’s website, they will use the company’s Kobra robot to deploy smaller seekers, crawlers and drones, among them the company’s FirstLook throwable expandable robot.