Mankind has conquered nearly all places on the surface of the planet throughout the ages. From dangerous seas to the highest mountains, our civilization has seized control of almost every corner of Earth’s surface. Now, we may soon start doing the same thing to the underworld according to a new military project by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States. The new initiative challenges participants from all over the world to propose pioneering methods to develop systems that can help in the investigation of habitable underground networks
“One of the consequences of the increase in world population and urbanization is the need for more living spaces, which makes the search and development of underground infrastructure increasingly interesting,” says Timothy Chung, program director of the DARPA Tactical Technology Office (TTO) in a recently published video (see below).
According to Timothy Chung, program director of the DARPA Tactical Technology Office (TTO), “One of the consequences of the increase in world population and urbanization is the need for more living spaces, which makes the search and development of underground infrastructure increasingly interesting.”
In that line of thinking, the Pentagon has just launched a totally unexpected challenge to researchers.
Titled “Underground Challenge of the Advanced Defense Research Projects Agency of the USA” (DARPA Subterranean or “SubT” Challenge), it’s a call to explore new possibilities in tracking, navigation, and exploration of underground environments, as noted by Space.com.
This initiative invites participants from all over the world to propose pioneering methods to develop systems that can help in the investigation of habitable underground networks, even with unpredictable conditions that are dangerous for humans.
“One of the main limitations facing warfighters and emergency responders in subterranean environments is a lack of situational awareness; we often don’t know what lies beneath us,” Chung, said in a statement.
Image Credit: DARPA
“The DARPA Subterranean Challenge aims to provide previously unimaginable situational awareness capabilities for operations underground.”
Through the “SubT” Challenge, the Pentagon invites the scientific and engineering community, as well as the general public, to use their creativity in order to provide new technologies and ideas to make access the inaccessible, considering time as something essential.
According to the director of the TTO, Fred Kennedy, “we are now at a point where developments in robotics, autonomy and even biological systems will allow us to explore underground areas that are very dangerous for humans.”
Those who are interested in this challenge will compete in solving extreme problems as helping people navigate in the unknown, through unprecedented treacherous subterranean conditions where time is of the essence, according to the statement.
As noted by Space.com, The final competition, which will take place in 2021, will include three challenges that include operating in one of three environments: a network of man-made human-made tunnels, a subterranean municipal-transit system and a network of underground natural caves.
The final event will challenge teams to navigate through networks that include parts of all three environments. The grand-prize winners will take home $2 million. The deadline to apply is Jan. 18, 2018.
Through the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, we are inviting the scientific and engineering communities — as well as the public — to use their creativity and resourcefulness to come up with new technologies and concepts to make the inaccessible accessible,” Kennedy said in the statement.
Check out more about DARPA here