The CoStar team led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will participate in the underground challenge finals scheduled to be held this week. The challenge involves demonstrating multi-robot autonomy in a series of tests in extreme environments. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the CoSTAR team will be one of the eight teams participating in the final. The team will use dozens of robots to traverse a series of complex underground scenes.Eight teams and robots from more than 30 institutions will compete for a prize of US$2 million (approximately Rs 1.47 billion)

The team will participate in the challenge at a former Kentucky limestone mine from September 21 to September 24. The challenge is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In a statement shared by NASA JPL, the goal of the challenge was described as “developing autonomous solutions for first responders in underground environments where GPS and direct communication are not available.”

The NASA JPL team will consist of 60 members. According to the report, this includes engineers from California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Luleå University of Technology and other industry partners.

The statement added the of the team, “The CoSTAR (Collaborative Underground Autonomous Robots) team led by Jet Propulsion Laboratory will showcase their driving, walking and flying robots, which can one day be used to explore extreme terrain on the surface, such as those in other worlds. Inside caves and lava tubes, no human assistance is needed.”

In particular, the CoSTAR team will “develop intelligence and autonomous software solutions for physical robots that can navigate in challenging and unprecedented environments.”

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In addition, the note added that the developed for the challenge and those focused on the exploration of the earth’s extreme environment also have direct applications in the field of space exploration.

Regarding the challenge, the statement added that the CoSTAR team “relies on various robots to achieve mission goals.” Robot scouts will first be sent to explore the environment and then a “robot subset” to meet the overall mission objectives.

Speaking of underground challenges, Joel Burdick, a at California Institute of Technology and a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “I am very happy to see how our very diverse robotics team will perform.” Burdick leads the California Institute of Technology campus portion of the CoSTAR team .

According to the statement, the robot team must operate autonomously or have limited radio contact with a human supervisor. The task must be completed within an hour. These points will be allocated based on the number of objects they can reach, identify and locate.


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