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Robotic Submarine Running Debian Wins International Competition

This August, a team of 35 undergraduate students from Cornell University sank the competition at the 12th annual Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition[0], sponsored by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Office of Naval Research. The competition takes place in a large acoustic testing pool operated by the US Navy SPAWAR
Systems Center. It calls for entries to pass through a gate, follow a
path, ram a submerged buoy, fire through a square target with small
torpedoes, drop markers into bins containing simulated targets, recover
a PVC target and surface through an octagon shape, all without human
intervention. The Cornell Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Team (CUAUV)[1]
took first place by completing the entire course at the competition, a
feat not seen since MIT won in 2002. This was Cornell’s first victory
since 2003.

Cornell’s vehicle, named “Nova,” runs a custom software stack on top of
a single board computer running Linux and relies heavily on Debian.
“Debian works amazingly well for us,” said Benjamin Seidenberg, CUAUV’s
new software team leader. “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.” Seidenberg, who also handles IT issues
for the team, said that they consolidated on Debian three years ago.
“When I joined the team, we had computers running Windows XP, Windows
Server, Debian, Ubuntu, FreeBSD and Gentoo. Now we’ve settled on Debian
for the sub and the servers; our lab workstations dual boot Debian and
Windows. It’s a lot easier to manage, and it’s great to be able to
develop in the same environment that the submarine runs.”

The team also uses other open source software on their vehicle such as
OpenCV for image processing and libdc1394 for video capture. According
to Arseney Romanenko, another member of the software team, these
libraries are essential for doing vision processing in an embedded
environment; they are fast and lightweight which translates into
significant power savings.


About Debian

The Debian Project was founded in 1993 by Ian Murdock to be a truly
free, community project. Since then the project has grown to be one of
the largest and most influential open source projects. Over three
thousand volunteers from all over the world work together to create and
maintain Debian software. Translated into over 30 languages, and
supporting a huge range of computer types, Debian calls itself the
“universal operating system”.


The Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team is a group of
about 35 undergraduate students at Cornell University who design and
build autonomous underwater vehicles for research purposes and to
compete in the AUVSI Underwater Vehicle competition. More information,
including information on sponsoring the team, is available at their

Contact Information

For further information about Debian, please visit the Debian web pages
at or send mail to .
For further information about CUAUV, please visit the CUAUV web page
at or send mail to .

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5 Responses to “Robotic Submarine Running Debian Wins International Competition” »

  1. Pingback by Robotic Submarine Running Debian Wins International Competition … | Just linux! — October 8, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

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  4. Pingback by Robotic Submarine Running Debian Wins International Competition ( | — October 14, 2009 @ 7:05 am

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