The handsets provide onboard power, propulsion, computing, and navigational software, as well as built-in cameras and sensors for the SPHERES, according to NASA. Each smartphone is connected to one of the flying robots via a cable, and a Wi-Fi network connection to ISS computers provide a data connection.
NASA changed the handsets only slightly to make them suitable for the flying robots. It removed the GSM communications chip to avoid interference with electronics aboard the ISS, and replaced the lithium battery with AA alkaline batteries. Other than that, the handsets powering the robots are "identical to the off-the-shelf consumer device," the agency said.
While the Samsung headset is the first one to be approved for the program, NASA said it will use other types of smartphones in the future.
SPHERES are meant to serve as remote-controlled astronaut assistants, performing tasks such as surveys and inspections of the interior of the ISS by capturing mobile camera images and video.
NASA also has bigger plans for the flying robots, aiming to simulate external free-flight excursions and test other more-challenging tasks to see what they can handle, the space agency said.
Using smartphones or their software as flight controllers is an option the federal government increasingly is exploring.
Researchers from Boeing and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently tested controlling a mini unmanned aerial device using an iPhone in a remote location. The U.S. military widely uses UAVs--also known as drones--in combat, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.
The Department of Defense's technology research arm, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), also is eyeing the use of mobile applications to control and provide other sensors for UAVs and other military vehicles.
DARPA is seeking smartphone app developers for its Adaptable Sensor System (ADAPT) program, which uses a commercial development model to facilitate rapid delivery and configuration of sensor systems for myriad military vehicles.
How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)
InformationWeek Elite 100Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
The UC Infrastructure TrapWorries about subpar networks tanking unified communications programs could be valid: Thirty-one percent of respondents have rolled capabilities out to less than 10% of users vs. 21% delivering UC to 76% or more. Is low uptake a result of strained infrastructures delivering poor performance?
InformationWeek Tech Digest August 03, 2015The networking industry agrees that software-defined networking is the way of the future. So where are all the deployments? We take a look at where SDN is being deployed and what's getting in the way of deployments.