THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM…: DARPA’S SECOND UNDERGROUND

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM…: DARPA’S SECOND UNDERGROUND ...

There's a very intriguing story that's (back) in the news, according to the following article shared by A.S., and that's DARPA's (the Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Project  Agency's) robotic underground challenge:

DARPA Subterranean Challenge: Urban Circuit Preview

You may recall this competition, for another on was held last year; I blogged about it. But in this competition, the robots have to negotiate a much more complex underground environment:

The Urban Circuit of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge is the second of four robotics competitions that send teams of state-of-the-art robots into challenging underground environments in an attempt to seek out artifacts while creating detailed maps. Last August, the robots explored a man-made tunnel system in the NIOSH research mine near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And starting this Thursday, the teams will be taking on the urban underground, at Satsop Business Park in Elma, Wash.

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DARPA’s intention is that the Urban Circuit “will represent human-made urban environments such as municipal infrastructure and mass transit.” We’d sort of figured that they’d choose a subway station, mostly because they’ve been using subway station graphics on the SubT website. But DARPA has chosen Satsop Business Park (just to the west of Olympia, Wash.) as the location for the event, and it’s much more of an industrial-y looking place.

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Something in particular to look out for in the Urban Circuit is verticality: Things like stairs, ladders, ledges, and holes in the ground and ceiling that need to be explored or traversed. The Tunnel Circuit didn’t really have that; there may have been one or two optional holes, but nothing that robots were required to deal with in order to make progress. We’re expecting that verticality will be a much more significant (i.e. mandatory) part of the Urban Circuit, which will definitely add some risk. And some drama!

A key thing to remember is that all teams are allowed to do is push their robots through the entry to the Urban Circuit course, and after that, they can’t touch them. Once the robots move out of communications range, they’re completely on their own, operating fully autonomously without any human input at all.

During the Tunnel Circuit, teams tried a variety of very creative ways to keep in touch with their robots, both to give them high-level instructions and to get back artifact coordinates to score points. We’re expecting even more autonomy for the Urban Circuit, as teams have refined their communications strategies over the past six months.

New to the Urban Circuit are two different artifacts: gas, and vent. They replace the drill and fire extinguisher artifacts from the Tunnel Circuit.

Needless to say, all this has my high octane speculation antennae pulsing with suspicion, and my suspicion meter has been in the red zone on this one ever since the first contest was announced. After  all, DARPA's real name - the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - casts the shadow of military purpose over everything it does. That in turn raises the question of why this capability is being developed.  For last year's contest, I speculated that it might be to develop a capability to explore natural underground cavern and cave systems or installations, particularly if they were on other planets, for the addition of an underground "space robot capability" would drastically enhance the exploratory suites of planetary probes.  And it is interesting that this story comes out in the context of several stories about space recently.

But there's another context that's very intriguing in this connection, and it has my high octane speculations running in entirely different directions. Recall that many months ago the American military announced that it wanted to develop new operational doctrines and tactics for human soldiers to fight underground, precisely in the sorts of environments DARPA's contest is taking place in. The choice of subways, with stairs and so on, and as the article points out, vertical components, like ventilation and elevator shafts, or perhaps even missile silos, is an indicator that something is up. The search for "artifacts" - including "gas elements" - could easily be seen as a thinly disguised search for "booby traps" in such underground environments, such as the SS planted in those large underground installations in Germany during the Second World War, many of which, incidentally, have never been completely explored to this day. So one possibility might be the exploration of "hostile archaeological sites", ancient or modern.

That possibility raises yet others, and since we're already out on the end of the speculation twig, we might as well step off the twig altogether: the development of such a capability might also be a means to explore how to defend against robotic explorers. Additionally - and here's the biggest whopper of them all - the development of this capability might be precisely to go exploring the underground installations of some "breakaway group", let's say, a group of corporations that have developed an enormous and secret underground installation infrastructure, and are no longer so open to the prying eyes of any government(s) they might ostensibly serve coming to inspect them.

In other words, might we be looking at a response, rather than at a projection of war fighting requirements and proof of concepts for them?

That's a whopper of a question, I grant you, and in this case, time - and any future revelations from DARPA's contests - might tell.

See you on the flip side...

21 thoughts on “ THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM…: DARPA’S SECOND UNDERGROUND ...”

  1. HEAD’S UP!!!!

    No one should miss RedPill78’s interview with CYRUS PARSA!!! People are being programmed thru’ their devices without even knowing it!!! TDS anyone?! There is more to this China Thing than we can even imagine…all joking aside!! Robotic insects poisoning people?!!

  2. On the Richard Dolan YouTube page he has videos talking about the leaked Admiral Wilson notes, where Wilson, who supposedly is in charge of military projects was denied access to information about ufo’s by project heads. So Dr. Farrell’s speculation is very, very plausable.

  3. There is one major problem these AI can be hacked and turn against their creators. Thou there use as expendable scouts in a hostel exploration especially ancient and NAZI SECRET sits which would be booby-trapped would come in handy. Any breakaway civilization would a pirate brotherhood in everything but name they usually called corporations.

  4. it is harder for a rich man to get to commentary heaven than to thread the camel through the needle of the e#ye

    1. Ya know when ya understand something better than ya expected ya would? I love that feeling. Thank you.

  5. Dana Thomas says that it sounds like a b-movie. I remember a (sort of similar) b-movie as a kid. It involved, I believe, the Chinese burrowing under the US so they could invade, and, of course, take over. I have no idea as to the name of the film but in the film, underground sounds could be heard on the surface, and it was eventually discovered that the “yellow peril” was up to no good. I think they were stopped in the end … but honestly humour aside, in real life, we have absolutely no idea what goes on under our feet, or in the oceans. All sorts of shenanigans could be going on, and we would be none the wiser. Still I would love to know for sure. The dark projects/breakaway world is a fascinating subject …

  6. I can imagine a B SciFi movie: Researchers send a robot into Antarctica tunnels that are definitely not natural; they lose touch with it, but it knows it has to retrieve SOMETHING. It comes back with a purple sphere which, as the scientists approach it, starts too…. (hit the peypal button for the next instalment!).

    1. This reminds me of the movie Prometheus where the crew releases a couple of robotic orbs to map a detailed 3-D holographic of every nook and cranny of the interior of a large structure they discovered, which turns out to be an alien spacecraft.
      The premise of the movie is that the crew of the spaceship Prometheus (an expedition that is funded by a private corporation, of course) follows a star map discovered among the artifacts of several ancient Earth cultures. Seeking the origins of humanity, the crew arrives on a distant world and discovers a threat that could cause the extinction of the human species.

  7. Robert Barricklow

    This is going to piss me off. I can’t stand this privatization of space and beyond. Is everything going underground; in point of fact, and/or met…
    White Rabbit

    1. Robert Barricklow

      metaphorically?

      I wonder if this contest will have 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th generation AI in the mix? AI coupled w/ next general neural networks? How about throwing in some 64 qubits: voila! You have a winner!
      Perhaps next time, they’ll mimic Jeopardy, and have the winner host the next contest?
      Tesla’s electric cars will be vying for this kind of technology; as will other private entrepreneurs?

      Operating autonomously?

      LOL! Robot Space Academy!
      One generation; teaching the next?
      Like humans training their robot replacements?

      RoboCops on the drawing boards and boardrooms?

      Absolutely loved it!
      The exploration of “hostile archaeological” sites, ancient or modern[incidentally on rt.com today a possible burial chamber of Queen Neferti

      1. Robert Barricklow

        ti may nave been discovered]
        Ah yes.
        Inevitably, robot will be immolating men, and fighting each other.
        May the best ownership company win.
        Cannon fodder as its metallurgical/neurological finest?

        Ah.
        Like Eisenhower and area 51?
        Wickedly cool!
        The Breakaways are likewise developing/spying.
        Will both sharpen their wits, as a result of this ongoing upmanship game?

      2. Robert, on “hostile archaeological” sites, there was a deep controversy on whether to open-up part of an ancient Hindu temple – Padmanabhaswamy Temple, in the state of Kerala, India:

        https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/padmanabhaswamy-temple-vault-b-facts-about-the-scary-inaccessible-chamber/as60389479.cms
        (2019?)
        “The portals of Vault B remained locked despite all efforts made by the committee to open it. Of all the six vaults, the Bharatakkon Kallara or Chamber B is believed to be deeply rooted to God Padmanabhaswamy. … In fact, there are two ante-chambers apart from the main door guarding the entry to Chamber B. The inviolable door is the third and the final door which is guarded by humongous serpents, the deities, enchanting and fiery female vampire named Kanjirottu Yakshi and other supernatural entities. … The scary door of Vault B has serpent imagery and yakshi to indicate danger to whoever tries to open it.”

        https://scroll.in/article/938546/what-former-cag-vinod-rai-found-when-auditing-the-accounts-of-keralas-shree-padmanabhaswamy-temple
        (Book excerpt Sep 27, 2019)
        “This fact of the records showing Vault B was opened was mentioned in our audit findings. The observation got into the public domain after the audit report was submitted to the Supreme Court. Members of the royal family must have read about it. Subsequently, a news item appeared in Malayala Manorama , a Kerala daily, quoting Princess Lakshmi Bayi as clarifying that the report was referring to the outer door of Kallara (vault) B, which was opened in 2011 by the Supreme Court-appointed observers.

        It is speculated that this vault is the largest and because it is guarded by serpents, may contain treasures far beyond what the others contain. The fact remains that there are claims and denials regarding the opening of this vault. Permission has been sought from the Court to open it, but no direction has been forthcoming. Its contents and the superstition surrounding it continue to fuel wild imaginings.”

        1. Robert Barricklow

          Goshawks,
          Thanks for the link.
          I tend to think that the oligarchy examined those underground sites long ago. Whatever treasures there were, were acquired by those families running the operation[maybe some being stolen from them along the way by other families/organizations.
          In other words, it’s been going on around the world for a long time. The question is of insti

          1. Robert Barricklow

            tutional memory. How has that been passed on. I tend to trust the oral form more than the written. Nowadays? Forget about it! Digital.

  8. In a word: Dulce…
    That’s the alleged jointly-operated human and alien underground facility which may exist under Archuleta Mesa on the Colorado-New Mexico border near the town of Dulce. D ARP A may want offensive/defensive capability if things go south. And this tech applies to any similar circumstance..

    (The risk of AI-contamination mentioned in the previous blog’s comments also applies here…)

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