Smartphones are everywhere. And now they’re even on the space station.
NASA has equipped tiny robots with smartphones to collect information while they float around the space station. The smartphones are part of Google’s Project Tango, and were purchased from Amazon and Best Buy. The goal is for the smartphones to help upgrade the space station’s tiny Sphere robots.
According to Google’s Project Tango website:
Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.
Our team has been working with universities, research labs, and industrial partners spanning nine countries around the world to build on the last decade of research in robotics and computer vision, concentrating that technology into a unique mobile device. We are putting early prototypes into the hands of developers that can imagine the possibilities and help bring those ideas into reality.
The ultimate goal of the Sphere robots is to assist astronauts with space station chores, as well as perform the riskier tasks in place of the astronauts. Up until recently, the Spheres have been pretty limited in functionality.
The use of smartphones has a great cost-benefit as well. Building robots with built-in features, similar to those on smartphones, would cost ten times as much as integrating consumer smartphones has been.