Autonomous Surface Craft and a Significant Operating System – an Overview

Atish P. Shirodkar and Samarth Borkar 

Goa College of Engineering,Farmagudi, Ponda, Goa, India.

Abstract – Autonomous surface crafts have shown various transformations in their design & architecture, sensors, power source and operating / communication systems since 1993. Different operating systems used earlier envisaged smart phone, with a combination of 3G, WiFi and a blue tooth; Microcontrollers; Microsoft Windows to Linux based operating systems. Each of these systems though served the purpose; the present ocean engineering systems demands more ease at command and control in autonomous assistance of ASCs for successful maritime activities.


This paper gives an overview of various types of earlier operating systems and describes one of the robust and virus free ubuntu Linux based operating system, with Client-Server program in C language, highlighting its use in Oceanography. One client-server program written by us is also enclosed in the paper.

Keywords: ASC, operating systems, overview, ubuntu Linux, client-server.


 Autonomous Surface Crafts (ASCs) are well known for their operations without human control, either on land for military use or for other commercial purposes or at sea, mostly in naval and oceanographic work. In oceanography, the ASCs are mostly used for bathymetric mapping, hydrographic measurements and various other purposes at sea, rivers, lakes and dams.

The ASCs though date back to the World War II, the real project work started only in the1990s (Corfield and Young, 2006). One of the first ASC’s designed and developed by MIT was ARTEMIS platform, a 1.37 m long scale replica of a fishing trawler for performing bathymetry and test control algorithms. It was feasible in automatic heading control and DGPS-based way-point navigation, as well as operating autonomously for collecting hydrographic data. Thereafter, a new platform known as the AutoCat was developed as an improvement. Tele-supervised Adaptive Ocean Sensor Fleet is a deep sea multi-robot science exploration system that combines a group of robotic boats to enable in situ study of phenomena in the ocean-atmosphere interface, on the ocean surface as well as the sub-surface beneath it.

The NAMOS project developed an airboat, working in conjunction with static nodes to be deployed prior to sampling. The static nodes provide temporal coverage, while, the airboat samples a good spatial resolution of data. The OASIS platform is a long-duration solar-powered autonomous surface vehicle, designed for autonomous global open ocean operations. Recently, a unique ASV known as the Wave Glider, running on wave energy has been developed. It is well equipped with solar panels and is working well over long distance with time. Some developed an ASV equipped with a LIDAR, camera, radar and imaging sonar to be used for mapping surface and bottom of the water.  More recently, the ASV has been developed at ETH with a winch mechanism, for making measurements at sea, from surface to 130 m depth.

Since then, the ASCs have become significant in achieving unmanned operations, particularly in Oceanographic surveys (measurements of water temperature, pH, salinity, or biological characteristics). However, the modern ocean engineering systems demands more and more ease at command and control in autonomous assistance of ASCs for carrying out successful marine operations. This poses a challenge to the use of good operating system for the ASCs in Oceanographic operations.


ASCs are crafts, monohull, buoy or catamaran and are provided with multiple sensor systems and self-contained power source, typically high density batteries or a solar power system. They may range in complexity but must compulsorily include four main elements: a body (hull), a propulsion system, a navigation system typically made up of GPS and a compass array of sensor systems for data collection, with a computer for data processing and transmission system. In addition, the cameras are often fitted for recording video and computer vision. Lastly, the various sensors for measuring the water quality parameters are added to ASC.


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Volume -02, Issue -06 , June 2014.



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