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Photo of Colorado’s Edgar Experimental Mine.
Nine teams will attempt to remotely navigate the dark tunnels of Colorado’s Edgar Experimental Mine.

In early April, nine qualified teams will attempt to remotely navigate the dark and dirty corridors of Edgar Experimental Mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado, in preparation for the Circuits Stage of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Subterranean (SubT) Challenge. The SubT Integration Exercise, known as STIX, offers teams an opportunity to try out their technologies, including robotics, sensors and communications solutions, in a representative environment. The locations for the Circuits Stage events have not been announced.

The Subterranean Challenge seeks to revolutionize how first responders and warfighters operate in human-made tunnel systems, urban underground settings, and natural cave networks that are too dangerous, dark, deep, and unknown to risk human lives. Teams are competing to develop breakthrough technologies that rapidly and remotely map, navigate, and search subterranean environments.

To qualify for STIX, teams were required to demonstrate baseline performance capabilities and appropriate safety measures. The SubT Challenge comprises two competitions: the Systems Competition, where teams will develop novel hardware solutions to compete in physical underground environments, and the Virtual Competition, where teams will develop software-based solutions to test in simulated scenarios.

Teams will compete in three preliminary Circuit events and a Final event pursuing high-risk and high-reward approaches. The Final event, planned for 2021, will put teams to the test with courses that incorporate diverse challenges from all three environments.

Teams in the Systems track will compete for up to $2 million in the Systems Final event, with up to $200,000 in additional prizes available for self-funded teams in each of the Systems Circuit events.

Teams in the Virtual track will compete for up to $1.5 million in the Virtual Final event, with additional prizes of up to $500,000 for self-funded teams in each of the Virtual Circuit events.

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