As technology changes a broad array of life changes from combat to children's toys and now children's toys are influencing combat. The popular Wii gaming system from Nintendo is being looked at by researchers. The remotes for the game, may offer a new way of controlling robots for combat. Scientist from Idaho National Laboratory, are joining with engineers from the U.S. Army, Foster Miller, and iRobot to come up with new ways of controlling robots.
By finding innovative ways to control these robots strain may be reduced on those controlling the bots, as well as, new applications for the robots. Current laptop interfaces may have up to fifty buttons for operation of a robot, and require attention to be on the monitor instead of the surroundings as well, a potential danger in hot war zones.
A Wii remote could reduce stress, as well as, provide a simple intuitive way to drive a robot without looking at a screen and allow attention to be focused on the robot and the surroundings. The Wii controlled bots work well in test conditions, and provide a more intuitive way of controlling the bots and faster way too.
The other benefits of the Wii controlled robots include: coming back to soldiers even if they have changed position. The robots will also be able to map out the ground they have covered.
This technology came from a simple entertainment system meant to be popular with kids and adults. Combat warfare being made possible by a game system. It sounds outrageous at first. Yet, when I sat back and thought about the idea, it made sense. As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives it makes sense that it would cross fields from one concept to another. The Wii is an advanced piece of equipment that has unique characteristics for its controller. The control can sense itself to its relative position to the TV. The control can be aimed and used to shoot, as well as swung like a bat; it also has the ability to sense its tilt.
So the advancement of a controller that can sense itself relative to other objects like a TV, to move from a game to robotics, seems like a rather easy connection, when I started thinking about the controllers' interaction when playing the Wii. In Wii Bowling you hold the controller as if it were the bowling ball, then move your arm like you would to throw the ball. So if the controller can sense the motion of a human arm in relation to the TV it could do the same for a robotic arm. As I read on, this link occurred to me as I watched my neighbors girls play with their new Wii they got from the winter holidays. Where their arms moved the bowling balls moved on the screen. So the design for a robot to be controlled in such a fashion would seem natural, and not so focused in on a screen. This would mean in combat that a solider could more easily control a robot and pay attention to his surroundings better, maybe saving lives.
The original article can be found at msnbc.com titled "Wii -controlled Robots made for Combat"
Post edited January 13, 2009 at 5:35 PM EST.