DARPA Subterranean Challenge Virtual Reality Research Track

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Virtual reality research is being targeted at some many unconventional areas of study. VR technology is at it’s best when it is being used to open up a new previously unseen world without the risk or cost to the participant. VR is about more than 3D movies and realistic video games it is also about exploration and discovery.

Remote viewing using virtual or augmented reality technology allows experts to spread the impact of their expertise as well as share experiences with people that otherwise would never experience it. DARPA, the secret research arm of the U.S. Defense Department is very interested in using Virtual science to open up the world underground.

DARPA Subterranean Challenge Virtual Reality Research Track

DARPA Subterranean Challenge Virtual Reality Research Track will yield some very cool technology.

Underground settings are becoming increasingly relevant to global security and safety. Rising populations and urbanization are requiring military and civilian first responders to perform their duties below ground in human-made tunnels, underground urban spaces, and natural cave networks. Recognizing that innovative, enhanced technologies could accelerate development of critical lifesaving capabilities, DARPA today announced its newest Grand Challenge: the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, or SubT for short.

The DARPA Subterranean or “SubT” Challenge aims to explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, and search underground environments. Teams from around the world will be invited to propose novel methods for tackling time-critical scenarios through unknown courses in mapping subsurface networks and unpredictable conditions, which are too hazardous for human first responders.

Timothy Chung, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) said:

One of the main limitations facing warfighters and emergency responders in subterranean environments is a lack of situational awareness; we often don’t know what lies beneath us. The DARPA Subterranean Challenge aims to provide previously unimaginable situational awareness capabilities for operations underground.

Virtual Reality Research.

We’ve reached a crucial point where advances in robotics, autonomy, and even biological systems could permit us to explore and exploit underground environments that are too dangerous for humans,” said TTO Director Fred Kennedy.

Instead of avoiding caves and tunnels, we can use surrogates to map and assess their suitability for use. Through the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, we are inviting the scientific and engineering communities—as well as the public—to use their creativity and resourcefulness to come up with new technologies and concepts to make the inaccessible accessible.

Like previous challenges, DARPA-funded and self-funded teams will compete side by side. Teams can compete in one or both of two complementary research tracks: the Systems track, to develop hardware and software to test on a physical course; or the Virtual track, to develop software-based approaches to test on a simulated course.

Teams in both tracks will compete in three preliminary Circuit events and the Final event. Each Circuit event will explore the difficulties of operating in a specific underground environment. The first will focus on human-made tunnel systems. The second will focus on underground urban environments such as mass transit and municipal infrastructure. The third will focus on naturally occurring cave networks.

DARPA prize

The Final event, planned for 2021, will put teams to the test with courses that incorporate diverse challenges from all three environments. The winner of the Systems track will take home a $2 million prize, while the winner of the Virtual track will earn a $750,000 prize.


A DARPA Subterranean Challenge Proposers Day is scheduled for Thursday, January 18, 2018, in Arlington, Virginia. Details are available here in the Special Notice located on FedBizOpps: https://go.usa.gov/xnPav. Advance registration is required (http://events.sa-meetings.com/subtchallenge) and closes at 12:00 PM Eastern on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 for onsite attendance and 12:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 for virtual attendance, or until capacity is reached.

A Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the DARPA Subterranean Challenge is anticipated to be released in the coming months and will be available on FedBizOpps.gov. Please email questions to [email protected].

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Category: Virtual Reality

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