Defuse Bombs With A Wii Remote

You’ve used it to virtually swing a racket, smack a homerun and hurl a bowling ball. The U.S. military, however, wants to use it to defuse real-world bombs.According to a report by New Scientist magazine, enterprising engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy have made it possible to control a bomb-defusing robot with the same Nintendo Wii remote that millions of gamers consider a natural extension of their hands.

The military has been working with the hardy Packbot for some time now, using the wheeled robot to sniff out and defuse explosives and landmines for U.S. soldiers. Traditionally, control over the bot has been accomplished with a joypad not unlike the kind that comes with an Xbox or a Playstation. That might seem like an easy fit for today’s tech-savvy soldier, but head engineer David Bruemmer notes otherwise.

“Our tests show 90 per cent of the operator’s workload goes into driving the robot rather than keeping an eye on the sensor data,” he said.

By virtue of its unique motion-detection capabilities, the Wiimote has streamlined the process and allows operators to focus more on the collected data and less on how to steer the Packbot. Bruemmer and his crew have also tweaked the Wii’s vibration feedback technology to “buzz” the operator when the Packbot detects something of interest in the field.

iRobot, manufacturers of the Packbot, know a thing or two about cleaning up sticky situations — they first hit consumer paydirt in 2002 with their automated Roomba vacuum-cleaning robot.

More information on the Packbot can be found at iRobot

This article is by Yahoo!
Copyright 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights Reserved.

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