The national Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently issued an international challenge titled the Subterranean or “SubT” Challenge. The agency is asking entrants to develop systems that can help humans navigate, map and search in underground locations below the earth’s surface that are normally too perilous to visit. The effort seeks to resolve one of the major limitations faced by first responders and those involved in fighting wars—what the agency called a “lack of situational awareness in subterranean environments.” It is hoped the challenge will result in previously unimaginable situational awareness capabilities for operations underground.
The final event will be held in 2021. Participants will be asked to navigate networks that include three elements— human-made tunnels, a subterranean municipal-transit system and a network of underground natural caves. The grand-prize winners will take home two million dollars.