Australian team comes second in DARPA robotics challenge

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 29 September, 2021

Australian team comes second in DARPA robotics challenge

Australian researchers have claimed second place in a global robotics competition named the Subterranean Challenge.

A team consisting of members from CSIRO data innovation arm Data61, CSIRO spin-out robotics company Emesent and the Georgia Institute of Technology won their preliminary round before being awarded second place in the final circuit.

For the competition, six autonomous robots built by the team located and reported back on items and environmental conditions throughout three underground courses built inside the Louisville Mega Cavern.

Points were awarded for correct identification and location of items, mapping the terrain, and maintaining autonomy and communications throughout.

The winning team has been awarded US$1 million ($1.3 million) in prize money that will be reinvested into Data61’s R&D.

Organised by US government research agency DARPA (the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), the three-year Subterranean Challenge tasked scientists with remotely running the robots in an underground environment designed to simulate real-world scenarios including locating models representing lost or injured humans, as well as environmental hazards such as pockets of gas.

Team leader and CSRIO Robotics Group leader Dr Navinda Kottege said the team is the first Australian team to place in the top two at a DARPA robotics challenge.

“This cements CSIRO’s place as a world leader in robotics and puts Australia firmly on the map in this increasingly important area of science,” Kottege said.

“I’d like to thank team partners Emesent and Georgia Institute of Technology for their exceptional research and development and contribution to this amazing result.”

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