BlueOS is a modular, robust, and efficient platform for managing a vehicle or robot from its onboard computer.

A bit of context...

The original Companion project (started in 2015) was originally created with the simple intent to route an underwater vehicle's video stream and communications to the surface computer, and provide some basic configuration of those features and the vehicle firmware. The simple scope was great to get things started, but also meant that new and complex features weren't designed in from the start, so maintenance and developing functionality have been increasingly challenging.

With lessons learned on useful features and software architecture requirements, BlueOS was designed and created from the ground up to fit the requirements of the onboard computer system we want to have - with room to grow into a true operating system for the vehicle. BlueOS is modular to the heart, which makes it portable, robust to update, and extensible.

There are many upcoming features, including support for third party packages, applications, advanced data logging, and much more! We're super excited about our future with BlueOS, and we can't wait for you to join us and try it out! 😄

BlueOS principles and goals

As the core development team we've tried to envision the future of the onboard computer, and the features that will require. Our initial ideas have been distilled into the following core concepts, many of which are already built in to the BlueOS of today:

  • An interface that is simple by default but powerful when needed - the user has the power to change anything they desire and customize the full experience
  • Designed to focus on what matters, improving user access to information and controls with a human-friendly UI and UX
  • Make complex tasks simpler and improve ease of use by reusing design patterns from other applications (based on the material UI guidelines)
  • Advanced error handling and detection, making any problems clear to the user and developers, along with how to fix them
  • Simplify development, providing full access to our services API and modular development model
  • Encourage contributions, the project is open source!
  • Portable and flexible, you should be able to run on a Raspberry Pi 3/4 or any SBC with Linux operating system, contributions are welcomed
  • Highly functional with low CPU usage, the entire system is built to run efficiently
  • Developed on solid foundations, critical parts or intensive workforce services are designed using the most advanced languages and features available for stability

Some of these principles will only be evident in future releases, but the underlying software architecture and organization have been designed from the ground up to support and enable them.

Feature Comparison

BlueOS has most of the features from the old Companion, and some hotly-requested new ones too!

HardwareRaspberry Pi 3B requiredRaspberry Pi 3B / 3B+ / 4B supported;
Other Linux-based SBCs images to come;
You can install from scratch using the installation script in any Linux computer. (Modifications may be necessary for your hardware configuration)
WIFI managerConnect to a single networkConnect to and manage multiple networks, like a cellphone or computer WIFI managerVisible and hidden networks supported
Ethernet managerSingle DHCP or static networkMultiple static IPs and DHCP configurationDHCP client or server
Camera managerSelect a single camera to stream over UDP
Supports Raspberry Pi cameras (except HQ Camera)
Supports a single audio stream over UDP
Easily manage multiple streams

UDP, RTSP and support coming soon for WebRTC (#1000)

Raspberry Pi cameras
not yet supported (#991)

Audio streaming
not yet supported (#990)
H264-encoded streams only
NMEA support--Conveys GPS positions to the vehicle
Ping Sonar DevicesPing Sonar distance estimates can be sent via MAVLinkDevices can be hot-plugged

MAVLink pipeline
not yet supported (#264)
Ping Sonar and Ping360 can connect with Ping Viewer
ArduPilot FirmwareArduSub-only downloadsGeneral ArduPilot downloads;
select vehicle to update
stable, beta, and devel releases, custom uploads, and restore default parameters
Endpoints--Create and manage UDP, TCP, and serial MAVLink endpoints
Bridges--Create and manage bridges between serial and UDP endpoints
File Browser-Edit files from the browserDownload and upload files
Log managerSsh/terminal onlyDownload and manage logs from the browser
Log Viewer-Visualise and analyse logs from the browser
Web TerminalAccess Linux terminal from the browserAccess Linux terminal with a tmux session from the browserWeb terminal client
Version ChooserUpdate to latest stable onlyEasily update/downgrade between versions, including locally stored;
Includes stable, beta, and master releases*;
Available even if main site failing
System informationBasic usage statistics, list of connected devicesProvides all the necessary information about the hardware, operating system, running processes, CPU, memory, disk, network usage and status
Notification system-Notifications about issues, new releases, and the status of your system.
Network test-Check real time latencyCheck upload and download speed from the surface computer to the vehicle
MAVLink inspectorSee latest MAVLink messages via MAVLink2RESTsee and inspect MAVLink messages in real time from the browserMAVLink2REST is available
Water LinkedSupports UGPS and DVL-A50DVL-A50 package available;
UGPS not yet supported

Release Types

BlueOS has multiple release types, to allow choosing your preferred balance between access to the latest fixes and improvements, and stability of the software. The three release types are:

  • Stable: Officially tested and validated
    • Stable versions with long term support
    • Recommended for most users
  • Beta: Quick-passed rolling releases with new features, bug fixes and general improvements
    • Versions that will be released after an internal test
    • A taste of what's to come
  • Master: Rapidly-passed bleeding edge development releases 🔥
    • The very latest features, that may not have been tested yet
    • Highly volatile, generally not recommended
    • For those who want to live in the future

When BlueOS is connected to the internet, a notification appears if a newer version of the same release or a stabler type is available. E.g: When using a Stable version, only new Stable versions will trigger a notification. If using a Beta release, newer Beta and Stable releases will trigger a notification. When running Master, any release type newer than the active one will trigger a new update notification. This helps to ensure that any updates will be as or more stable than your current version, unless you intentionally change to a less stable release type.

It's worth noting that Version Chooser in general offers several major robustness and versatility improvements over the previous 'latest update only' approach, which should benefit both users and developers.

  1. Documentation
  2. Source code
  3. Releases, changelogs, files

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