Small Wars Journal

In a Washington Business Park, DARPA is Testing Robots Underground

Wed, 02/26/2020 - 7:04am

In a Washington Business Park, DARPA is Testing Robots Underground by Kelsey D. Atherton - C4ISRNET

Elma, Washington, with an estimated population of 3,092, is hardly the foremost example of an urban battlefield, but it does offer a nearby business park, settled into the bones of a never-used nuclear power plant.

For military planners who fear future conflicts in megacities, Elma provides a near ideal testing ground: an urban environment without the difficulties of an inhabited urban space.

This week, the Satsop business park outside the city, was host to the next chapter of the Subterranean Challenge by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The explicit goal of the event was to “develop innovative technologies that would augment operations underground.” In practice that means testing robots, often teams of robots, and the software to navigate unknown environments. Mapping is a necessary but insufficient part of the process. For the challenges, the robots must locate specific artifacts, and then record their position within 5 meters.

The event offers prize money, but also a way to help ensure the military will one day have the the technology it needs. C4ISRNET attended the event this week…

Read on.