NASA Robots Compete in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge Final

The robots will also produce a live 3D map as they locate objects that represent a disaster-response and search-and-rescue scenario, such as manikins (to simulate human survivors), cellphones, and backpacks distributed throughout a large environment.

“Our participation in this exciting effort helps further one of the main goals of Caltech’s Center for Autonomous Systems & Technologies (CAST): developing robots that can help find and rescue humans in future disasters,” said Burdick.

Also present will be environment-specific artifacts, such as a carbon-dioxide-emitting source that mimics a gas leak in an urban setting, or a helmet in a cave setting that would indicate a nearby human presence. The team of robots must operate autonomously, for the most part, with no or limited radio contact with a single human supervisor, and the mission must be completed in one hour. The more objects they can traverse to, reach, identify, and precisely locate, the more points earned.

“It is a complex challenge for hardware and software design, but also for the diverse team that has persevered through the challenges facing us in the competition and the real world these last three years,” said Benjamin Morrell, robotics technologist at JPL and perception lead on Team CoSTAR. “It’s amazing to see what the team has produced, and I’m thrilled to see our system be put to the test against some of the best roboticists in the world. I’m also excited to see how SubT will springboard further advances in enhanced autonomous robots.”

To watch highlights of both the Systems and Virtual Competition from Sept. 21 to 24, visit:

For more information about Team CoSTAR, visit: