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Google's Project Tango Headed To International Space Station

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the much-cheaper-than-testing-in-somebody's-basement dept.

Space 22

itwbennett (1594911) writes "A pair of Google's Project Tango phones, the prototype smartphone packed with sensors so it can learn and sense the world around it, is heading to the International Space Station on the upcoming Orbital 2 mission where they will be used to help develop autonomous flying robots. Work on the robots is already going on at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and this week the space agency let a small group of reporters visit its lab and see some of the research."

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22 comments

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First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46545709)

First!

phonetics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46545745)

Tango sounds like an orange flavoured drink .

Skynet (3, Funny)

Macrat (638047) | about 6 months ago | (#46545791)

...the prototype smartphone packed with sensors so it can learn and sense the world around it

Skynet becomes self aware in 3 2 1...

Re:Skynet (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 6 months ago | (#46546007)

Tango becomes self aware in 3 2 1 ... years

Re:Skynet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46546051)

Shut up, fanboy.

Re:Skynet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46548085)

The only way to be sure is to nuke it from the orbit... Oh, that worked quite well in fact.

My curiosity (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | about 6 months ago | (#46545975)

What will be the effect on the accelerometer (0 gravity) and GPS. I assume that it also senses its current velocity and current position. Having data of 0 velocity but changing position (I assume that the ISS' velocity is not the same with the GPS satellites) would definitely f*ck-up the computation.

Re:My curiosity (1)

JazzLad (935151) | about 6 months ago | (#46546125)

An accelerometer doesn't measure speed but acceleration, if it was moving on earth at a perfectly constant pace (and perfectly smoothly) the accelerometer would likewise not measure anything, right?

Re:My curiosity (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 6 months ago | (#46546267)

An accelerometer doesn't measure speed but acceleration, if it was moving on earth at a perfectly constant pace (and perfectly smoothly) the accelerometer would likewise not measure anything, right?

If it measures acceleration, then whether at rest or undergoing smooth, constant motion, it should measure an acceleration of 9.8m/s straight down.

Re:My curiosity (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 6 months ago | (#46546283)

Oops, make that "up". /bonk

Re:My curiosity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46546341)

No. Acceleration is change in velocity. That's what it is measuring. If velocity is not changing, acceleration = 0.

Re:My curiosity (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 6 months ago | (#46547527)

No. Acceleration is change in velocity. That's what it is measuring. If velocity is not changing, acceleration = 0.

No experiment can distinguish between gravity and uniform acceleration, so if acceleration is what it's measuring, it can't possibly tell the difference between 9.8m/s^2 of acceleration and Earth-normal gravity. Indeed, just as Special Relatively is based on the fact that rest and uniform motion are the same thing, General Relativity is based on the fact that gravity and acceleration are the same thing. If you are sitting still on Earth's surface, you are undergoing 9.8m/s^2 of gravitational acceleration. In order for the accelerometer to read zero, you would have to be in free-fall.

Re:My curiosity (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | about 6 months ago | (#46546665)

Sorry for the vague construction of my sentence/thoughts in my head. The accelerometer that I am referring to is the one that is being used in phones. The ones that tell up from down. Yeah I was scratching my head when I first found out that that piece of hardware in smartphones is not called (I assumed) gyroscope. The velocity and current position problem is for the GPS satellites and given that it senses it surroundings. If this device is measuring the surrounding environment, detects that it is 1 meter from a wall/hull, reading velocity of 7.71km/s, and still same distance from the things around it with respect to x,y, and z axis, that really is interesting for me. I'm thinking of a problem similar to the experience of sitting in a bus and the bus next to it leaves. You might sense that the bus you are on is moving but what actually is happening is the other bus is the one that is moving. If you close you eyes you can easily tell that your bus is not moving but the addition of visual information fools the human mind. I'm curious if the addition of the information about its surrounding may have effect in some of its computation resulting to a wrong reading.

Re:My curiosity (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46546163)

The accelerometer won't measure anything useful unless propelled (but I suspect they don't plan on launching it into orbit, so it might be good for interior usage) and the GPS won't work, the consumer GPS modules aren't designed for that range of measurements.

Re:My curiosity (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | about 6 months ago | (#46546455)

At first I was thinking the same about the GPS but then I searched for their height. The ISS is orbiting at 370km while GPS satellites are at 20,000km.

Re:My curiosity (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46546521)

It's a matter of speed and altitude limits that are built into consumer GPS receivers on purpose (lest someone tried to put them into a guided missile).

NASA already has plenty of Robots (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 6 months ago | (#46546111)

flying out of NASA/JPL. Examples are the Curiosity & Opportunity rovers on Mars, Cassini at Saturn, New Horizons approaching Pluto and Dawn approaching Ceres. These are real science mission instead of the pork-with-wings needed to launch meat sacks up to low earth orbit in ISS.

Re:NASA already has plenty of Robots (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 6 months ago | (#46547159)

This project is the type of thing that makes people who are interested in science and exploration stop and think, "Hm, International Space Station? Do we still have one, and we're still sending people there?"

The thing cost $150 billion dollars, and in terms of research it's produced... what, exactly? For that, we could have doubled the National Science Foundation's funding levels for ten years, and created 30 robotic probes like the Mars Curiosity mission, and done some real science. The sooner we kill of the manned space program in favor of real science, the better. The ISS is just welfare for aerospace companies, and they get plenty of money already for defense contracts.

Re:NASA already has plenty of Robots (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 6 months ago | (#46547463)

The thing cost $150 billion dollars, and in terms of research it's produced... what, exactly?

Here [nasa.gov] 's a bunch, as of 2008. But if you prefer the "Top 10" approach, check here [nasa.gov] .

The thing is, real science is being done on ISS. But let's be honest--real science is pretty boring except for those people who have the knowledge to understand it ("Dark matter? Salmonella? Who cares?!"). So most poo-poo it (TLDR, etc) while we look at the pretty pictures from Mars and go, "Oooh! Real science!"

Driving around on Mars is cool. Seeing evidence of water on Mars is interesting. But I'm not sure I'd call it "real science." It's more observation than anything else.

Not so fast . . . (0)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about 6 months ago | (#46546643)

I have read that NASA relies on Russia for the lift and access to the space station. They way Obama is dealing with Putin over Crimea, this project might not get off the ground.

Re:Not so fast . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46547311)

I have read that NASA relies on Russia for the lift and access to the space station. They way Obama is dealing with Putin over Crimea, this project might not get off the ground.

... except the summary says this will fly on the "Orb-2" Cygnus cargo capsule from Orbital Sciences, a US company. Together with SpaceX (and their Dragon capsule) they are part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program which aimed precisely to fund US solutions for ISS cargo servicing.
It is true however that the Antares rocket used by Orbital to launch their capsules is in fact mostly Russian.

Re:Not so fast . . . (1)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about 6 months ago | (#46548159)

I wish I could mod you up as "informative".
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