Google's Smartphone Technology Will Help NASA Robots Navigate The International Space Station

Google smartphones will take NASA astronaut robots from 2006 tech to the future of space travel, according to Reuters.

Robots with the phones, armed with technology from Google’s augmented reality experiment Project Tango, are set to launch on July 11.

The Android augmented androids are called SPHERES — short for Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites — and are appropriately ball-shaped. NASA plans that someday these little guys will take over astronauts’ typical tasks, Blue Sky says.

“We wanted to add communication, a camera, increase the processing capability, accelerometers and other sensors. As we were scratching our heads thinking about what to do, we realised the answer was in our hands,” Smart SPHERES project manager Chris Provencher told Reuters.

He’s not exaggerating. Provencher and his team bought phones from Best Buy and Velcroed them to their soccer-ball-size robots. While effective, they needed something more sophisticated. This is when they turned to Google’s new experimental tech in Project Tango, Blue Sky says.

On its website, the Project Tango team says it’s looking for developers to help test the tech and push boundaries. Literally, “the goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.”

As the eyes, ears, and sensors of SPHERES aboard the Orbital 2 Commercial Ressuply Services Mission to the International Space Station, Google’s smartphones will get a view of space few humans ever see.

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