The Robots Came From Below: The DARPA SubTerranean (SubT) Challenge 2020

This year DARPA is launching: SubT  – a nice, short way to say: DARPA Subterranean Challenge.

Why is this important? What are some applications for underground robots?


The goal of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge is to discover innovative solutions to rapidly and remotely map, navigate, and search complex underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban and municipal underground infrastructure, and natural cave networks.

So basically bots for helping law enforcement with drug-smuggling tunnels – check. Human trafficking – tunnels? Check.

Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon in Tremors (1990). UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT

There will be three circuit events for this SubT challenge – teams will compete to operate in 1. Human-made tunnels  2. Municipal style tunnels (think subway-style)  3. Naturally occuring cave networks (think Tremors — well, maybe more like Luray Caverns)

What does an underground robot look like? And will there be one named “DigDug”?

Underground robots help with all kinds of rescue operations, think “well rescue” or even archaeology.  In 2018, a robotics team helped archaeologists with exploring pre-Incan civilizations with their camera equipped robots.

For the DARPA SubT,  registration opens August 15:

More information on the DARPA page



Exploring the DARPA SubTerranean Challenge

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