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Flyability Recruits College Graduates to Advance Underground Drone Technology

BY Isabella Lee
11 October 2018

U.S. government agency DARPA wants to revolutionize how we operate in the underground world with drones. Underground settings, also called subterranean settings, are difficult and sometimes unsafe to work in. DARPA believes drones could help military and civilian first responders operate more efficiently in subterranean settings such as tunnels, urban underground, and cave networks.

The current hazards of subterranean environments vary drastically from setting to setting, and they have a high level of unpredictability—these environments can degrade or change over time and are often too high-risk for personnel to enter. To help overcome these challenges, DARPA has launched the Subterranean or “SubT” Challenge. The challenge seeks novel approaches to rapidly map, navigate, and search underground environments during time-sensitive combat operations or disaster response scenarios.

Flyability Team CERBERUS

Flyability Elios in action for public safety. Photo courtesy of Flyability.


Team CERBERUS Competes in Subterranean Challenge

Flyability has joined forces with the Autonomous Robots Lab at the University of Nevada, the Robotic Systems Lab of ETH Zurich, the Autonomous System Lab of ETH Zurich, the HiPeR Lab of U.C. Berkeley, and Sierra Nevada Corporation to compete in the challenge. Together, they form Team CERBERUS.

The environments where the challenge is taking place have a lot in common with those where our customers are deploying Elios daily. Taking part in the prestigious Subterranean DARPA challenge is an opportunity to collaborate with university laboratories and companies which are the best in their R&D fields.

—Adrien Briod, CTO, Flyability

Team CERBERUS envisions the collaboration of walking and flying robots as the groundbreaking robotic solution for subterranean deployments. Through the combination of best of bread products and research projects, it will provide field experts with an autonomous, robust, and reliable way to fulfill their mission even in an unpredictable, and hostile subterranean setting. The team hopes their cumulative expertise will enable the successful development and reliable operation of the CERBERUS system in the SubT Challenge.

Take a look at Team CERBERUS’ collaborative walking & flying robots concept developed for the SubT Challenge in the video below:

DARPA SubT Challenge - CERBERUS Team Concept Video


Subterranean Challenge Events and Schedule

The challenge consists of three preliminary circuit events and one final event. Teams can compete in one or both of two complementary research tracks: the Systems track, and/or the Virtual track.

Teams that compete in the Systems track will develop and demonstrate physical systems to compete in live competitions on physical, representative subterranean courses, and focus on advancing and evaluating novel physical solutions in realistic field environments. Teams that compete in the Virtual track will develop software and algorithms using virtual models of systems, environments, and terrain to compete in simulation-based events, and explore larger-scale runs in simulated environments that explore significantly expanded scenario sizes and durations. Team CERBERUS has elected to compete in both tracks.

All teams will participate in three circuit events. Each circuit covers a different subdomain:

  • Tunnel systems
  • Urban Underground
  • Cave Networks
DARPA SubT Challenge

The DARPA Subterranean Challenge explores innovative approaches and new technologies to rapidly map, navigate, and search complex underground environments. Photo courtesy of DARPA.


Teams will have plenty of time to design, test, and refine their systems/software since the challenge events will be spread out across a three year period, Fall 2018 – Fall 2021. The final event, planned for 2021, will put teams to the test with a course that incorporates diverse challenges from all three environments. The winner of the systems competition will take home a $2 million prize, while the winner of the virtual competition will earn a $750,000 prize.

Flyability Recruits Graduates to Support Team CERBERUS

Flyability is now recruiting specific profiles opening the door to talented graduates to join the Flyability adventure and contribute to the success of Team CERBERUS.

These openings include internships in a variety of STEM fields:

  • Mechatronics
  • Propulsion
  • Software
  • Electronics
  • Sensor Fusion
  • Automation
  • Mechanical Design
  • Firmware

For a list of all internship and job openings at Flyability, visit Flyabiliy’s jobs page. For additional drone job opportunities, check out our Guide to Drone Jobs.

How do you think Team CERBERUS will perform during the SubT Challenge? Do you think they will excel in one circuit event category over the others or fair evenly in all three? Share your thoughts about the SubT Challenge and Team CERBERUS in this thread on our community forum.

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