DARPA SubT Challenge – Revolutionising the underground domain

Emesent has partnered with the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO’s Data61 and Georgia Tech to compete in the DARPA Subterranean or “SubT” Challenge.

The challenge is a US$2 million prize competition funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a prominent research organisation of the United States Department of Defence, which aims to explore new approaches to rapidly map, navigate, and search underground environments.

Complex underground settings present significant challenges for military and civilian first responders. The hazards vary drastically across domains that can degrade or change over time and are often too high-risk for personnel to enter.

Teams from around the world are invited to propose novel methods for tackling these time-critical scenarios through unknown courses in mapping subsurface networks and unpredictable conditions.

The DARPA Subterranean Challenge explores innovative approaches and new technologies to rapidly map, navigate, and search complex underground environments. – Image courtesy of DARPA.

“It’s pretty fortuitous,” said Dr Stefan Hrabar, Emesent’s Co-Founder and CEO. “We’ve been doing underground autonomy for years, and then DARPA announces this challenge on exactly what we’re doing.”

The video below shows some results from a trial Emesent conducted earlier this year at Barrick Golden Sunlight Mine in Montana, USA.


Numerous autonomous flights were conducted along drives and into stopes, include beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) autonomous flights into stopes, enabled by our Hovermap LiDAR mapping and autonomy payload.


Alongside Georgia Tech and the CSIRO, Emesent is part of the only Australian team competing in the SubT Challenge, and one of only seven teams worldwide to receive funding of up to US$4.5 million from DARPA across the three-year challenge.

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