DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Continues

Event Date: 
September 27, 2018
DARPA SubT Challenge, subtchallenge.com
Louisville Mega Cavern, Louisville, KY

On 19 July 2018, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) posted the solicitation for the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Competitors Day.

DARPA is looking for innovative solutions that can help our military and first responders rapidly and remotely map, navigate, and search underground man-made and natural environments including tunnel systems, urban and municipal underground infrastructure and/or natural cave networks.  Emphasized are time sensitive solutions that facilitate safe and secure responses in where the environment layout is unknown, could degrade or change over time (i.e., dynamic terrain), and is too high-risk and hazardous to send in human personnel.

The DARPA SubT Challenge seeks to advance technologies through both Systems and Virtual competitions that will dramatically outperform current approaches of manually and laboriously mapping and searching subterranean environments.  It envisions multi-disciplinary teams cutting across the core systems technology areas of autonomy, perception, networking, and mobility. DARPA's intent is to have numerous teams participate in the SubT Challenge and develop integrated systems and software solutions that overcome the severe challenges of underground environments and their associated limiting factors.

DARPA is hosting a Competitors Day in the Louisville Mega Cavern, a 100-acre manmade limestone cave underneath a portion of the city's southern section. The cave  currently houses commercial storage facilities and public recreation businesses such as underground zip lines and electric bike and tram tours. Before being converted to current uses in the late 1980s, the cavern was an underground crushed limestone quarry from the 1930s to the 1970s.

The research agency has set up dual systems and virtual competition tracks for the effort. The systems track will develop novel physical approaches that will be tested in underground courses, it said, while the virtual track looks to develop software and algorithms to construct virtual models of subterranean systems, environments and terrain for simulations aimed at larger-scale scenarios.

Physical participation in the Competitors Day is limited to the the first 240 registrants, and webinar participation is limited to the first 500 participants, so make sure to check the registration opening and closing dates.  Note: Attendance at the DARPA SubT Challenge Competitors day is voluntary and is not required to participate in the SubT Challenge.

DARPA Subterranean Challenge Competitors Day

Solicitation Number: DARPA-SN-18-66

Response Date: 12:00 PM EDT, 13 September 2018

Registration Website: www.SubTChallenge.com/CompetitorsDayRegistration

Registration Opens: 9:00 AM EDT, 15 August 2018

Registration Closes (for Physical Participation): 12:00 PM EDT, 13 September 2018 (or when venue capacity is reached)

Registration Closes (for Webinar Participation): 12:00 PM EDT, 19 September 2018 (or when webinar capacity is reached)


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office (TTO) will be holding a Competitors Day event for its Subterranean (SubT) Challenge to provide information to potential competitors on the objectives of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. The DARPA SubT Challenge Competitors Day will be held on 27 September 2018 at Louisville Mega Cavern at 1841 Taylor Avenue, Louisville, KY 40213, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT. The event will also be webcast for those who would like to participate remotely. Advance registration is required for both the physical meeting and the webcast.


  • To introduce the science and technology community to the DARPA Subterranean Challenge program vision and goals;
  • To provide preliminary information about the SubT Challenge, with the primary focus of the Competitors Day event being to inspire and attract potential self-funded competitors; and
  • To encourage and promote the formation of cross-cutting teams possessing exceptional expertise and development capabilities for executing research and development capable of completing the DARPA SubT Challenge.

Related Articles & Links:

DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge program, DARPA

DARPA Subterranean Challenge: Unearthing the Subterranean Environment, DARPA

DARPA Subterranean Challenge Aims to Revolutionize Underground Capabilities, DARPA, 21 Dec 2017

DARPA Selects Teams to Explore Underground Domain in Subterranean Challenge, DARPA, 26 Sep 2018

Teams Will Test Concepts for Exploring Underground in SubT Integration Exercise, DARPA, 22 Jan 2019

DARPA Seeks Tools to Capture Underground Worlds in 3D, DARPA, 7 May 2019

With Insights from Integration Exercise, SubT Challenge Competitors Prepare for Tunnel Circuit, DARPA, 29 Apr 2019