Auriga, cave survey freeware

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(version 2.60 of August 4, 2021)



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Auriga is a cave survey freeware for PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) running under Palm OS (and now in emulation mode under Android and Windows Mobile). Auriga is designed for in-cave use as a smart survey notebook: as the survey goes, Auriga displays the line plot in graphical form, reports statistics, helps spot and fix survey errors and allows sketching cave walls and features to scale with GPX, KML, SVG and DXF export. Bidirectional data exchange is currently provided with Compass, Survex, Therion, GH Topo/Toporobot, VisualTopo, Walls and the CSV format.

The Auriga software is based on the original project of Martin Melzer (designer of the Scurion) of creating a sensor box (electronic compass and clinometer) coupled with a Palm OS software to automatically acquire cave survey data. Although work on the hardware prototype stopped in 2000, the Palm OS software development resumed in 2002 under the initiative of Luc Le Blanc Photo From 2003 to 2015, a conduit designed by Christian Chénier Photo has allowed the bidirectional exchange of survey data between Auriga and the Compass, VisualTopo and GH Topo/Toporobot cave survey PC software. Since 2012, Auriga directly imports/exports its data in various formats through the PDA's memory card.

Auriga is extremely customizable (sessions, instruments sets, measurement units, calibrations, input and display options, etc.) to cover the needs of the majority of cave surveyors. Developed in Québec (Canada), Auriga is available in English, French, Spanish and Catalan.
Auriga users in the world
(send me your location or mark it in blue on a copy of this image)

Why switch to Auriga?

Compared to a traditional paper notebook, Auriga:

  • allows a paperless survey process (numeric and sketch data)
  • offers more legible data
  • reduces the risk of input error involved with transcribing notebook data into the main computer
  • offers a data backup feature as cave data can be beamed between Palm OS devices via the infrared link
  • allows the surveyor to get an immediate cave view while surveying, thus helping to detect gross errors
  • speeds up the exploration process, cave statistics, gallery directions, positions, etc. being known in real time, without exiting the cave

Compared to a cave survey PC/Mac software, Auriga:

  • runs on a low-cost Palm OS device that requires little battery power
  • can be conveniently used underground

Does Auriga replace a cave survey PC/Mac software? No, instead it complements it! Survey data can be acquired on the Palm, viewed and used at the camp on the Palm and, once back home, transferred to the PC/Mac. This latter process can be done either with a memory card, a cable (serial or USB, depending on both the Palm OS device and the PC/Mac capabilities) or via a Bluetooth or infrared link.

Auriga can be used as:

  • an electronic notebook to sketch and store numeric survey data while in the cave
  • a scientific calculator to convert survey shots into Cartesian coordinates
  • an electronic survey data backup device until getting back to the home base PC/Mac
  • a display tool to view the cave (top view or profiles with pan, zoom and query features)


The genesis

An article in issue 98 (June 2017) of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA)'s Cave Radio & Electronics Group (CREG) Journal recalls the genesis of the Auriga software.


Loop-fixing process in Lechuguilla

Article « Fixing bad survey loops in Lechuguilla; There's an app for that!» featured in the February 2012 issue of the NSS News (USA)

More news...

©Luc Le Blanc 2003

Website last updated 2022-12-05