One of NASA’s robots could be getting a big upgrade thanks to Google’s Project Tango smartphone technology. Project Tango has the ability to detect and map the environment it is in, thanks to a series of sensors, and now NASA’s SPHERES might be getting the same ability.
SPHERES are brightly colored robots about the size of volleyballs that float around the International Space Station. They are designed to help astronauts by navigating through a limited portion of the ISS. The current models use ultrasound and infrared light, but they could see a huge improvement with Google’s help.
Terry Fong, director of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said in a statement, “This is no ordinary upgrade. We’ve customized cutting-edge commercial technologies to help us answer questions like: How can robots help humans live and work in space? What will happen when humans explore other worlds with robots by their side?”
Google and NASA have already conducted tests to see what Tango will do in zero-gravity. A Tango smartphone should be on the market later this year, but it will take much longer for the technology to be completely adapted to SPHERES.