Collaborating Authors

Opportunities in DARPA SubT Challenge


The DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge aims to develop innovative technologies that would augment operations underground. The SubT Challenge allows teams to demonstrate new approaches for robotic systems to rapidly map, navigate, and search complex underground environments, including human-made tunnel systems, urban underground, and natural cave networks. The SubT Challenge is organized into two Competitions (Systems and Virtual), each with two tracks (DARPA-funded and self-funded). The Cave Circuit, the final of three Circuit events, is planned for later this year. Final Event, planned for summer of 2021, will put both Systems and Virtual teams to the test with courses that incorporate diverse elements from all three environments.

Watch DARPA's robot arm catch a drone in mid-air

Popular Science

DARPA boasts that the system can snag a "full-size" drone, but don't expect it to catch any Predators. SideArm can snag a drone as heavy as 1,100 pounds, which means it's not quite strong enough to catch the plane-sized Predator or its larger siblings. There already exist rail-and-hook systems to catch small and medium-sized drones like the ScanEagle. In those systems, the drone deliberately flies into a tall net, halting its momentum. DARPA's experimented with alternative landing and launching systems before, like this quadcopter-launching body and sky hook, with modest success.

DARPA thinks it has the solution to satellite longevity


The RSGS units sound like they'd cure a lot of issues plaguing current satellites. DARPA says that correcting "mission-ending mechanical anomalies" that include problems with how their solar arrays and antennas deploy are among those fixes.