Swiss robots scoop DARPA award

A team from ETH Zurich, Flyability and top U.S. and European universities won $2 million at DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge final event last week. With the competition, DARPA, the research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense, wanted to advance technological tools for active combat operations or disaster response.

Team CERBERUS won the Systems as roboticists and engineers from eleven countries participated in the Final Event of the DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge last week at the Louisville, Kentucky, Mega Cavern. CERBERUS won $2 million. CERBERUS (CollaborativE walking & flying RoBots for autonomous ExploRation in Underground Settings) is a product of the collaboration between ETH Zurich (Robotic Systems Lab and Autonomous Systems Lab), Flyability, University of Nevada, Reno, Sierra Nevada Corporation, University of California, Berkeley, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and the University of Oxford. The team used an ANYmal robot for the competition.

Teams in the Systems Competition developed a wide variety of robotic systems to advance and evaluate novel mapping and navigation solutions for application in realistic field environments, such as human-made tunnels, urban underground settings, and caves. Since the SubT Challenge began in 2018, teams have had the opportunity to compete in three Circuit events – Tunnel, Urban, and Cave (though the Cave Circuit was shifted to virtual-only due to the pandemic). The Final Event tested qualifying teams on courses that incorporated relevant challenges from all three environments.

“In time-sensitive missions, such as active combat operations or disaster response, warfighters and first responders face difficult terrain, unstable structures, degraded environmental conditions, severe communication constraints, and expansive areas of operation,” said Timothy Chung, program manager of the SubT Challenge. “The Challenge has helped to significantly advance technological tools for tackling these impediments and safeguarding lives.”

(Press release / SK)
Picture: DARPA