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Robots Scurry Through Underground Scavenger Hunt to Advance Technology

Team Cerebus robots during an earlier stage of the Subterranean Challenge.

Eight teams of engineers participating in the DARPA event, held at the Louisville Mega Cavern, were judged on how many key artifacts they could find and identify in one hour over a course full of narrow passages and obstacles.

Credit: Team Cerebus

Eight teams directed robots through an underground scavenger hunt in the final segment of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)'s Subterranean Challenge in Louisville, KY.

The competition was designed to evaluate systems for use in underground search-and-rescue missions and military reconnaissance in dark, dangerous surroundings.

DARPA's Timothy Chung said the objective was for robots to supply "actionable situational awareness in unknown underground environments" before humans go in.

Participants were judged on how many key artifacts they could identify in an hour over a course winding through a cavern; the international Cerberus team earned the $2-million first-place prize for finding the most relevant objects in the shortest amount of time.

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