Auriga, cave survey freeware

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(version 2.56 of July 29, 2020)



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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)


TopoSur 2017

I will give a talk ( and 2nd part) and conduct an Auriga workshop at the TopoSur 2017 symposium (proccedings, in Spanish) symposium held on December 7-9 in Málaga (Spain).

TopoSur 2017

Digital Topography in Volcanic Caves

I will give a talk and conduct an Auriga workshop at the first Jornadas Canarias de Topografía Digital en Cavidades Volcánicas held on December 15-16, 2017 in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain).

I Jornadas de Topografía Digital en Cavidades Volcánicas

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.


It's prize season


The Grupo de Espeleología de Villacarrillo (Southern Spain) has awarded me its 2015 International Cave Topography Prize!


The Grup d'Espeleologia de Badalona (Barcelona, Spain) has named the Auriga Room in the C-20 cave in Escuain (Aragón, Spain) during its 2014 exploration camp!

Topo Sorbas 2014

Topo Sorbas

August 3-10 2014, in Almería, Spain, a week of cave surveying in a gypsum desert, where I'll conduct daily workshops.

Let's meet in Millau

I'll be presenting Auriga on Saturday May 18 at 15h at Millau 2013 (France), the Fédération française de spéléologie's 50th anniversary and 8th Euro Speleo Forum. Bring your questions.

Auriga on Android and iOS

After Windows Mobile and Symbian, StyleTap now offers its Palm OS emulator for Android. The 50$-software comes with a 14-day free trial. See Antonio Álcala Ortiz's video and my installation notes.

StyleTap also makes an iOS version, but with Apple's restrictions, you must jailbreak your device.

On-screen sketching
in Auriga 2.0!

See a 12' video of Auriga's most awaited feature

Talks at the 2012 NSS Convention (USA)

Between June 25 and 29, I'll be at the 2012 NSS Convention in Lewisburg, West Virginia (USA) and I'll give two talks on sketching in Auriga and loop fixing during the Cartography session on Monday

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)

EuroSpeleoForum in Marbella (Málaga, Spain)

The EuroSpeleoForum will take place September 23-25, 2011 in Marbella. I shall give a talk on sketching in Auriga.

Course in Spain

Following an invitation by the Espeleo Club Resaltes and with the help of the Federación andaluza de espeleología, I shall give a class on September 26-27 in Murcia (Spain)

New Palm OS device

PDA32 Aceeca, a New Zealand company that specialises in rugged PDAs, offers in Fall 2010 the PDA32. 199$ for this Palm TX equivalent (179$ + IR and Bluetooth options), but with a double capacity battery. Read my trial report.


Conduit 0.31 adds GH Topo support, a Windows software that uses Toporobot's data format. We now seek a programmer to adapt and compile the conduit for the Mac and thus support Toporobot/Mac.


Auriga now offers Bluetooth support of the DistoX, a 3-in-1 survey device (distance, azimuth and slope). A Palm OS DistoX calibration program is also downloadable.

Auriga on TV

On October 13, 2008 at 20:00, Télé-Québec's Le Code Chastenay scientific magazine featured a 5-minute report on Auriga and cave surveying we shot in June in Saint-Casimir Cave.


In Tam Hanna's Palm OS blog; learn the why's and how's of Auriga.

Pit Sounder

Pit Sounder

On May 10, 2007, we tested Auriga's Pit Sounder at Sima de Cabra (Córdoba, Southern Spain) by throwing 10-15-cm rocks into this 116-m open-air pit. By measuring the fall time (about 5 s), Auriga estimated a depth varying between 114 and 117 m!

©Luc Le Blanc, MMXX

Website last updated 2020-07-29