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The Army recently published a Request for Information looking for products at the model or prototype stage of development with the ability to map underground tunnel systems. Essentially, the Army is looking for a system capable of operating in what is described as a “GPS-denied environment” in producing a two or three-dimensional map.
Additional specifications describe potential options as "rapidly deployable, easy and safe to operate, and highly reliable and self-contained." The Army also wants it to be mountable to an unmanned ground or aerial drone, or transportable by soldiers.
With terrorist activity playing an increasingly prominent role in military operations, it’s safe to assume that this technology could play a key role in identifying underground areas of operations, or avenues of escape. According to a report on Task&Purpose.com, the Army is spending millions of dollars on preparing for subterranean warfare. In addition to this mapping system, ground-penetrating radar, foam grenades, and an unmanned subterranean robot are on their wishlist.
The Marines and Air Force have also expressed interest in similar technology, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently launched a Subterranean Challenge focused on exploring new approaches to mapping, navigating and searching complex underground environments for warfighters and first responders.
In addition to finding underground military locations, supply stockpiles, and avenues of escape, this technology could also be applied for search and rescue operations, interplanetary exploration, and underwater research.