A Google logo is seen at the garage where the company was founded on Google's 15th anniversary in Menlo Park, California
Stephen Lam—Reuters

Google and NASA Cooperate on Building Floating Space Robots

Apr 22, 2014

Tech giant Google is helping NASA make their floating robots smarter.

Since last summer, the two organizations have been cooperating on equipping NASA's SPHERE satellites with 3-D mapping technology to allow the floating robots to move around more freely. They currently use a system based upon ultrasound and infrared light to navigate.

The SPHERES, which serve as robotic assistants to astronauts at the International Space Station, will be equipped with the technology behind newly unveiled Project Tango to better get around. The technology allows phones to make 3-D real-time maps of their environment, and so facilitating autonomous navigation.

"Think about having a free-flying robot that can fly around inside a space station, perhaps equipped with some type of future smartphone," Zach Moratto, one of the NASA research engineers involved in the project, said in a video about the development.

The Project Tango-equipped floating robots will be launched into orbit this summer, a statement by Google said, before concluding on a bright note: "The future is awesome."

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