NASA tends to be at the forefront of technology, working with global companies to advance space exploration and operations. The organisation has previously sent robots into space, but a prevailing issue around their deployment has been that of controlling them from the ground. So NASA has teamed up with Sony and its virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD), PlayStation VR to help find a way to control the humanoid-like robots.
Using the PlayStation VR headset and PlayStation Move controllers, NASA and Sony have created a VR demo called Mighty Morphenaut to control Robonaut 2 a humanoid robot designed to mimic us from the waist up. The robot has moveable arms, hands, and fingers, reports Road to VR.
The Mighty Morphenaut demo allows users using the VR headset to see what the robot sees, in real-time. The software also features a mode to allow for the time delay difference that experienced, showing the user ‘ghost hands’ that move without delay, while the robots hands move shortly afterwards.
“The hope is that by putting people in an environment where they can look around and move in ways that are much more intuitive than with a mouse and keyboard, it would require less training to understand how to operate the robot and enable quicker, more direct control of the motion,” said Garrett Johnson, Software Engineer at NASA’s JPL. [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. With time delay, anticipating the motion of a floating object makes it nearly impossible to interact, so further research might include ways to help users predict that kind of motion.”
The project is still a work in progress and with further research and practice needed, but its another addition to NASA’s experiments with VR.
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