Don Brutzman
Code UW/Br, Naval Postgraduate School
Monterey California 93943-5000 USA
831.656.2149 office, 831.656.3679 fax

Dissertation Abstract. A critical bottleneck exists in Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) design and development. It is tremendously difficult to observe, communicate with and test underwater robots, because they operate in a remote and hazardous environment where physical dynamics and sensing modalities are counterintuitive.

An underwater virtual world can comprehensively model all salient functional characteristics of the real world in real time. This virtual world is designed from the perspective of the robot, enabling realistic AUV evaluation and testing in the laboratory. 3D real-time graphics are our window into that virtual world. Visualization of robot interactions within a virtual world permits sophisticated analyses of robot performance that are otherwise unavailable. Sonar visualization permits researchers to accurately "look over the robot's shoulder" or even "see through the robot's eyes" to intuitively understand sensor-environment interactions.

Distribution of underwater virtual world components enables scalability and real-time response. The IEEE Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) protocol is used for compatible live interaction with other virtual worlds. Network access allows individuals remote access. This is demonstrated via Multicast Backbone (MBone) collaboration with others and World-Wide Web (WWW) access to pertinent archived images, papers, datasets, software, sound clips, text and any other computer-storable media.

This project presents the frontier of 3D real-time graphics for underwater robotics, ocean exploration, sonar visualization and worldwide scientific collaboration.

Portable Document Format (.pdf) Distribution

Postscript (.ps) Distribution

Software Reference

Software Reference: A Virtual World for an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle is a hypertext version of the NPS Computer Science Technical Report NPS-CS-010-94. It contains current versions of all robot and virtual world source code. Documentation is embedded as comments in the source code.

Also available in .pdf (675KB) and .ps (4 MB) These copies of the technical report document the source code accompanying the original dissertation distribution. Note that they are not maintained up-to-date and contain program code dated December 1994 or earlier.

Software Distribution

The Virtual World for an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) home page has the complete software distribution, including source code and executable binaries that run on Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) workstations.

A Installation and Execution Guide is available. Please let me know if you need help installing the virtual world. Research collaboration is welcome.

The Universal Resource Locator (URL) of this dissertation home page is

Don Brutzman ( (8 July 2008) (official disclaimer)