NASA Robots Compete Underground in DARPA Challenge

Robots from all over the world will compete to find objects in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge Systems Competition, held Aug. 15-22 in mining tunnels under Pittsburgh. Among them will be a team led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, that features wheeled rovers, drones and climbing robots that can rise on pinball-flipper-shaped treads to scale obstacles. 

Held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the competition is intended to develop technology for first responders and the military to map, navigate and search underground. But technology developed for the competition will also lay the foundation for future NASA missions to caves and lava tubes on other planets.

"By investing in this competition, we are investing in our future," said Leon Alkalai, manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Planning. "There's no doubt that the next grand challenge for JPL and for NASA is to do more subsurface exploration."

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