Packbot + Nintendo Wii Remote = Intuitively-Controlled Military Assistance Robots

Soldiers may soon be using Nintendo Wii remote-control unit and…

Soldiers may soon be using Nintendo Wii remote-control unit and Apple IPhones to interact with the robots currently used in the military.

The “Wiimote” control system allows game players to direct on-screen action using a wireless wand that detects acceleration in three dimensions. David Bruemmer and Douglas Few, engineers at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Lab in Idaho Falls, have altered a military robot to be controlled by the Wiimote.  “Using the ‘Wiimote’ to intuitively control the robot makes sense”

Packbot, made by iRobot in Burlington, Massachusetts, a bomb-disposing, explosive-detecting, joystick-controlled robotic assistant used by US soldiers and are also used as the first set of eyes to enter unsecured crime scenes in law enforcement investigations.  If the Packbot is manipulated with the use of a Wiimote, the movement of the hand will directly translate into the robot’s movements, allowing soldiers to control the robots more instictively, allowing an operator the ability to pay more attention to incoming sensor data.

In addition to the changes in controlling the robot by use of the Wiimote, Bruemmer and Few have also written software that will allow the Wiimote to activate its built-in vibration feedback when the robot encounters something of interest- somebody trapped in a building, for instance.

The pair also plan to make the iPhone more compatible with Packbots. Instead of carrying a heavy laptop around, Few and Bruemmer plan to make the Packbot able to transmit footage compatible with the palm-sized, touch-screen iPhone.

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