Swiss researchers win US-funded robotics contest

The robots in the Subterranean Challenge came in all shapes and sizes DARPA

An international team with representatives from Switzerland and with participation of Armasuisse, the federal office for defence procurement, has won the three-year Subterranean Challenge robotics competition.

This content was published on October 9, 2021 - 11:03

The contest is funded by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), part of the US Department of Defense.

The winning team, called CERBERUS, competed successfully against seven international teams from the robotics elite in the final in the US, Armasuisse said in a statementExternal link.

The team consisted of robotics researchers from Switzerland (federal technology institute ETH Zurich, Flyability SA), the US, UK and Norway.

In order to prepare as well as possible for the Subterranean ChallengeExternal link, the Swiss Drone and Robotics Centre from Armasuisse Science and TechnologyExternal link provided above-ground and underground facilities together with the Engineering/Rescue/ABC training unit of the Swiss Armed Forces. CERBERUS were able to test various different robots under realistic conditions in the facilities.

Four-legged walking robots

The robotics competition started in 2019 and reached its climax at the final in September 2021. The task set by the challenge was to explore the surrounding area as fast as possible with any number of robots and precisely locate items such as fire extinguishers, first aid equipment and dummies (to simulate human survivors).

Small aircraft and ground vehicles were used to tackle the tasks. In addition to more conventional wheeled and tracked vehicles, four-legged walking robots also played a key role. The winner of the challenge relied heavily on four-legged robots. Four Swiss ANYmal walking robots were deployed in the competition, one of them from the defence ministry.

DARPA conducted the competition to promote novel approaches to rapid mapping, navigation and search in underground environments. The challenge is one of the most demanding robotics competitions in the world.

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