Jan 18, 2019 | Updated: 08:24 AM EST

NASA Using PlayStation VR To Practice Humanoid Control

Dec 17, 2015 12:49 AM EST


NASA had found an unusual partner in controlling robots with Sony's PlayStation division. NASA practiced controlling humanoid helper using PlayStation VR.

NASA had been collaborating with SpaceX to get humans on Mars and the common man into space. Sony's PlayStation VR is helping the agency in putting out robonauts into the outer space. NASA is already successful in sending humanoids into space. The only problem is that the agency can't control the humanoids in space from Earth.

Probes and drones are specialized; they are great at what they do but that is the only thing that they can do. Humanoid robots could mimic human dexterity and flexibility, and are able to perform human actions. Therefore, ability to control these humanoids should improve every space endeavor the agency is taking.

NASA is reported to be collaborating with Sony in coming with a VR demo known as Mighty Morphenaut. The demo is developed to create the same environment and issues that the NASA might experience when controlling humanoids in space from Earth. Human controllers can use the VR headset and will see the same things as what the robot is facing. Using the Move controllers, the human controller can operate the humanoid robot's hands.

"[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.

As of this writing, NASA experts are still learning how to operate the robots as there would be delays to reactions, reception lag, among other things. Practice is much needed so that scientists can interact with various objects on space shuttle and even on distant planets. It will take time to calibrate system in order to improve accuracy. 

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