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Experts from the Department of Cybernetics and the Department of Computers will be researching caves in the Býčí skála complex in the Moravian Karst from 20 to 24 July. Drones and ground robots will help them monitor inaccessible areas. The survey will also be a preparation for participation in the next round of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) competition.

Ground robots from the Department of Cybernetics will collect and evaluate data in cave terrain, and drones will monitor vertical cave chimneys, which are difficult for speleologists to access. Autonomous flying over the submerged river and lakes that occur in the caves of the complex will also be unique worldwide.


Dr. Martin Saska, team leader of Multirobotic systems FEE CTU, commented on the unique survey: “The biggest challenge for the deployment of fully autonomous flying robots is the transition from horizontal flight through the system corridor to a vertical shaft, the mouth of which must be detected and mapped in real time by on-board sensors, because the deployed autonomous system will not know the cave map in advance. In addition to the navigation of drones in the unknown environment of caves and the need to fly autonomously through very narrow passages, for us a big unknown is an autonomous flight over a flowing underground river without GPS signal and sufficient lighting. Running water and glare from on-board headlights can be confusing for our precise drone stabilization and control systems. In addition to the application of survey of cave complexes and mines, the system developed by us and tested next week can be applied in aerial inspection of sewers, ventilation shafts, tunnels, dams and industrial complexes, simply everywhere where access is difficult and where insufficient lighting, absence of GPS signal and necessity flying close to obstacles makes it impossible to deploy commercially available drones. "


“A big challenge for ground robots is the need to autonomously traverse very complex and unknown terrain. Unlike crossing common obstacles such as stairs or ramps, the shape of the cave terrain and its physical properties can be almost arbitrary and cannot be prepared in advance. Due to the complexity of the environment (darkness, surface humidity and inability to use GPS), we expect that most common algorithms for mapping and locating the robot will fail, which significantly increases the risk of damage to the robot. The biggest concern, of course, comes from the robot getting stuck in a potentially inaccessible place. In addition to the above-mentioned applications, we see great potential for developing algorithms for "last mile delivery" tasks, in which the robot often has to navigate without the use of GPS, in a very complex dynamic environment such as a large department store. "Doc. Karel Zimmermann and prof. Tomáš Svoboda from the Department of Cybernetics commented on data collection by ground robots.

During the event, the cave complex will be closed to the public. Access for the media is reserved on 23 July 23 from 10:00 to 14:00. However, it is necessary to register in advance by e-mail, by 21 July, 14.00.