Virtual reality is rapidly changing the landscape of the technical world. It has filmmakers looking to the future possibilities of interactive film, American Football teams training their new quarterbacks with it, and now NASA is adopting PlayStation powered VR to control robots in space.
Previously, when NASA sent robots into space they were drones, probes and landers. All of these were good in the sense that they could perform their designed tasks but fell short when it came to capacity to operate on the fly.
Over recent years, the field of robotics has been advancing at a very rapid rate. The shifting focus in this field has been towards a more humanoid design for the robots. This allows for robots to perform much more complex tasks and utilize tools. However, this creates a significant challenge for programing if they were to be autonomous.
This is where PlayStation and Occulus Rift are starting to come into play. NASA has begun utilizing PlayStation Move and VR headsets such as Occulus Rift in order to allow for an operator to control the movements and actions of robots.
Through a human operator, these new robots are able to perform a nearly unlimited amount of tasks that could not be performed by a drone or probe. Such innovative advancement will open up many new possibilities for stellar exploration.
This new method is not without its challenges however. As the robots travel further from their controllers, there is an increase in the amount of delay between input and action. This is currently being compensated for with a graphic overlay which shows the operator what their actions will do. At this time they do not have a solution for interacting with moving objects with a delay as the variables are currently too many to compensate for.
Just think, one day you could control a robot doing your job from the comfort of your own home!