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Army Creates Software Suite to Test Robotic Platforms for Subterranean Operations 

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Subterranean Ops
Subterranean Ops

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has developed software designed to help assess the capacity of autonomous platforms and robotic technologies to maneuver subterranean environments.

ARL said Tuesday the SubT-Tunnel dataset uses simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) elements to inform the development of unmanned systems that will be used to navigate natural and man-made underground environments.

The software suite virtually places the autonomous system into a simulated environment such as a Pittsburgh research mine to test various approaches to locating assets and survivors.

ARL noted that it used SubT-Tunnel to test the OmniMapper software and Google’s Cartographer offering as well as other approaches beyond GPS and LiDAR capabilities.

According to the lab, SubT-Tunnel was based on objectives for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Subterranean Challenge Tunnel Circuit.

ARL published details on the effort in a research paper as part of the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.