Robot Submarine Wins with Debian

Oct 09, 2009

A robotic submarine driven by Debian has won first place in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) competition run at a U.S. Naval facility. The Debian project lauds the participating undergrads from Cornell University.

The Cornell Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Team (CUAUV) consists of 35 students at Cornell University who gained recognition at the August 2009 AUSVI conference with their robotic submarine named Nova. The conference competition, now in its 12th year, requires entries to complete tasks through a rigorous underwater obstacle course without human intervention. The U.S. Navy provided the large acoustic testing pool. Among other things, the submarine needed to pass through a gate, ram a submerged buoy and fire a torpedo. The Cornell team was the only one among the 30 entries to complete the course, the last time being a team from MIT in 2002.

Benjamin Seidenberg, software team leader at CUAUV is full of praise for Debian: "Not only do we use it on the vehicle, we also run it on the computers in our lab and our servers, and use it to develop our custom electronics." The team reported using further open source software on the submarine, including OpenCV for image processing and Libdc1394 as an interface for its Firewire camera.

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    I was at the competition, and one of the teams was running around at the last minute looking for a WinXP cd so they could re-install the OS on their submarine. I felt a bit sorry for them, but our team (Virginia Tech) runs Ubuntu almost exclusively so I couldn't really help. I'd say most of the teams were running Linux of some sort on their AUVs. You might joke about a submarine running Windows crashing, but it did actually happen. For the record, our submarine (running Ubuntu) never had OS problems.
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