Chief Executive Officer and President of Sony Computer Entertainment, Andrew House introduces the PS4 virtual reality 'Project Morpheus' during the Sony E3 press conference at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Sony press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies. (Photo : Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
NASA recently found a new way to better operate robots in space. The agency is currently learning how to control the humanoid-like robots using the Sony PlayStation VR.
Engadget revealed that for several years, NASA has been working to create a functional humanoid for space explorations. Dubbed Robonauts, the dexterous robots are made to assist or replace humans in space. According to the official website, robonauts can handle simple, repetitive and very dangerous tasks in space. The machine has been previously forwarded to the International Space Station while Robonaut 2 was successfully launched in 2011.
Road to VR reported that NASA collaborated with Sony to come up with a VR demo, known as Mighty Morphenaut. The demo was developed to create the same environment and issues that the NASA Robonaut 2 might experience while in space. Users can view the same things as the robot by using the VR headset and can operate the robot’s hands via the Move controllers. The approach has been easier for NASA but future operations are expected to have input delay due to the distance between the robot and its operator. There is a VR demo mode, however, that considers such delay. The mode lets users view their own ghost hands that will operate and move without delay, although the robot’s hands will move at a later time.
NASA experts also have to deal with other issues, like moving objects. In time, the team is expected to have huge improvements in the way they control the robots in space.
"[With Mighty Morphenaut] we were able to explore a possible solution, and I think our application worked well to demonstrate the problems of operating with delayed communication. However, even in our simulation, there are a still a number of problems to solve," Garrett Johnson, a NASA software engineer, said in an IGN report.
In the meantime, NASA experts are still learning how to operate the robots more efficiently, as well as develop ways to reduce the lag as much as possible. With much practice, the scientists can interact with various objects on a space shuttle or even a distant planet. It will take time to improve the accuracy of the humanoid, but the PlayStation VR has proven to be quite effective at the moment. Perhaps NASA will find more ways to enhance Robonauts based on tests made with the gaming console.
More updates and details on the project are expected soon.