• 04/22/2014
    12:16 PM
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Google Project Tango Helps NASA Robots Fly

Google's experimental, 3D-navigating Project Tango will form the brains of NASA's SPHERES robots.

Between the one-day public sale of Google Glass smart goggles and the revelation that it is working on contact lenses smart enough to see for the people wearing them, there's an argument to be made that Google has done enough for nontraditional gadget design for one week.

However, the April 16 debut of the modular, endlessly customizable Project Ara was only the appetizer in Google's you-won't-believe-this-is-a-phone sweepstakes.

Project Tango -- a Project Ara spinoff that includes a vision processor, a depth sensor, a motion-tracking camera, and hardware sophisticated enough to build a detailed three-dimensional model of its surroundings by collecting precise motion and positional data 250,000 times per second -- has become a space bowling ball.

Since 2003, NASA has been using the enclosed but near-zero-gravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) to test propulsion, control, navigation, and self-piloting systems for satellites, using the bowling-ball-shaped Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) robots, whose name appears to embarrass no one.

Read the rest of this story on EE Times.

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