DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge

Funding Agency:
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting innovative proposals to advance technologies through both a systems and virtual competition that will enhance the ability to rapidly map, navigate, and search subterranean environments. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice. 

The primary goal of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge is to discover innovative solutions that can rapidly and remotely map, navigate, and search complex environments, including humanmade tunnel systems, urban and municipal underground infrastructure, and natural cave networks. Given the complex problem space presented by these environments, the DARPA Subterranean Challenge seeks to inspire and realize technological breakthroughs to offer key insights into:

  • Disruptive concepts of operations that both enable and exploit the capability to conduct rapid and autonomous subterranean missions; and
  • Composition of system capabilities to offer freedom of mobility at operationally relevant speeds in complex, unpredictable, and diverse subterranean environments.

The variety of built-in challenge elements and the competition structure itself are intended to address the secondary goal of increasing the diversity, versatility, cost-effectiveness, and robustness of relevant technologies and systems capable of addressing the myriad needs of a wide range of environments rather than serving single-purpose uses with specifically tailored solutions.

Another goal of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge is to establish a collaborative community by bringing together multi-disciplinary teams and cross-cutting approaches across disparate fields to tackle the autonomy, perception, networking, and mobility needs of the subterranean domain. To encourage a broader range of participants, the SubT Challenge includes both a physical Systems competition as well as a software-only Virtual competition. Teams in the Systems competition will develop and demonstrate physical systems in real-world environments, which will emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of fielding integrated solutions. Teams in the Virtual competition will use virtual models of systems, environments, and terrain to compete in simulation-based events that will focus effort on software-driven innovations.


  • Abstracts Due: February 5, 2018
  • Proposals Due: March 23, 2018

Agency Website

Amount Description

Multiple awards are anticipated. The amount of resources made available under this BAA will depend on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

March 23, 2018