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Talk-11: MAVMOOS: An Interface Between Mavlink-based Flight Controllers and MOOS-IvP

Caileigh Fitzgerald, Erin Fischell, Ryan Conway, WHOI/MIT

The backseat or payload computer architecture used with MOOS-IvP means that, in an ideal world, any sensor or autonomy code developed in MOOS-IvP will be hardware agnostic. This makes it possible to integrate more sophisticated capabilities onto off-the-shelf systems without having to modify proprietary software. The key interface is the connection between the manufacturer (frontseat) system that drives the vehicle and the payload (backseat) computer running MOOS-IvP. In the marine environment, the specifics of this frontseat system varies tremendously based on platform: however, there are an increasing number of autonomous and robotic systems that use a single protocol, Mavlink, for flight control. Mavlink is lightweight header only messaging protocol which is widely supported among Flight Controller Units (FCUs). FCUs are the group of microcontrollers used in most terrestrial drones- and now on an increasing number of marine platforms such as the BlueROV2 ROV and JetYak ASVs.

MAVMOOS is being developed at WHOI to be able to effectively interface between Mavlink-based flight controllers and MOOS-IvP on JetYak ASVs. MAVMOOS takes instructions from the Helm (MOOS App - pHelmIvP) and packages those instructions into Mavlink messages which are then sent to the FCU, which execute the instructions on the vehicle hardware. Initially, the link between MOOS and Mavlink was created using existing Robot Operating Systemís (ROS) support for the mavlink messaging protocol (mavros) plus and the MOOS-ROS Bridge previously developed by Kevin DeMarco at Georgia Tech Research Institution. This makes it possible to support co-development in both ROS and MOOS-IvP, for distribution of processing and autonomy tasks, and ultimately vehicle command, determined by developer preference. An additional development effort is ongoing to create a direct Mavlink-MOOS link, and includes developing necessary peripheral libraries to interface Mavlink and MOOS such as Asynchronous Serial comms. The ultimate objective with this project is to create a tool which will improve integration of MOOS-IvP with systems that use Mavlink.


  • UAVs
  • USVs
  • Mavlink
  • BlueROV
  • Jetyak