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2019/11/12 Subterranean Challenge Identifies Urban Circuit Location, Updates Prize Amounts

2019/11/12 Subterranean Challenge Identifies Urban Circuit Location, Updates Prize Amounts

The DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Urban Circuit will take place Feb. 18-27, 2020, at Satsop Business Park west of Olympia, Washington. In the SubT Challenge, teams deploy autonomous ground and aerial systems to attempt to map, identify, and report artifacts along two competition courses. The artifacts represent items a first responder or service member may encounter in underground environments.

Systems competitors from around the world will field their robot teams to find as many artifacts as possible in complex underground settings. Prizes of $500,000 for first place, $250,000 for second place, and $100,000 for third place are available for top performers among self-funded teams. DARPA-funded and self-funded teams compete side-by-side throughout the Subterranean Challenge. Only self-funded teams, however, are eligible for prizes in the circuit events. All qualified teams are eligible for prizes in the Final Event.

Three artifacts are common to all three circuit events, which take place in tunnel, urban, and cave environments. The common artifacts include a thermal manikin that emulates a human survivor; a cell phone; and an adult-sized red backpack. Each circuit will have two unique artifacts for a total of five different item types teams will attempt to locate and identify.

For the Urban Circuit, the new artifacts are gas and a vent. The gas artifact is a CO2-emitting device used to simulate a range of hazardous air quality conditions, such as a gas leak, poor ventilation, or fumes and smoke. Finding this artifact represents identifying areas that would be hazardous for personnel, including areas where breathing apparatus may be necessary. The vent artifact is a typical supply register commonly found in homes or work environments. Finding this artifact represents identifying potential areas with fresh air or an escape route to the surface.

During the Final Event in August 2021 teams will incorporate all three subdomains, which are expected to include all nine artifacts. Teams earn points by correctly identifying artifacts within 5 meters. The final score will be a total of each team’s best score from each of the courses.

Teams interested in the Systems Competition have until Dec. 3 to submit their qualification materials to compete in the upcoming SubT Challenge Urban Circuit.

Teams have until Jan. 3, 2020, to submit for qualification in the complementary Virtual Competition of the Urban Circuit in which teams develop software-based approaches to test on a simulated course. Prizes in the Virtual Competition are $250,000 for first place, $150,000 for second place, and $100,000 for third place.

Teams interested in joining either the Systems or Virtual competition, or both, are encouraged to join the SubT Community Forum, where they can engage with other participants and ask questions. For additional information, please see updated versions of the Qualification Guide, Artifacts Specification, Interface Control Document, and Transponder and Emergency Stop Integration Guide.

For additional information on the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, please visit Email questions to

Image Caption: Subterranean Challenge


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