The DARPA Subterranean Challenge Tunnel Circuit took place in Pittsburgh, USA on August 15-22, 2019. A joint team of Department of Computer Science and the Department of Cybernetics scientists and students called CTU-CRAS demonstrated a multirobotic system for searching the areas affected by a disaster. CTU-CRAS took first place among the self-funded teams, also first among the non-american teams and ranked third in the overall results of 11 teams competing in this challenge. This means a great success for us! Thank you everyone rooting for us throughout the whole event.
The goal of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge is to test systems of autonomous cooperating robots who can explore underground spaces without human assistance. This part of the competition focused on the ability of robots to find signs of the presence of overcast miners in mines affected by natural disasters or industrial accidents. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has an annual budget of $ 3.5 billion and which formerly initiated the development of autonomous cars and other advanced technologies that emerged in these competitions and were later introduced to the market.
The CTU-CRAS team matched the world's top teams, including MIT, ETH, JPL, CSIRO, and outperformed most of them, winning the award of $ 200,000. The most important part of the robotic team consisted of ground terrain robots, with which we have long-term experience both from European projects and from real exploration missions. Deployment of these robots was crucial for their success. They were precisely located, were able to autonomously explore the terrain, enabled to create a wireless network and send the operator accurate information about the map and automatically found objects for which the team earned points. Another important achievement was that our drones were able to fly over 200 meters in the mine and to fly back and forth completely autonomously. In addition, the developed and tested technology in such difficult conditions promises to be used in subsequent projects.