Nasa and Sony partnership sees PlayStation VR used to control space robots

Gaming may be the driving force behind the development of VR but the applications for the tech extend far beyond the realms of video entertainment and Sony is keen to let the world know just that after teaming up with NASA to help control its space robots.

Having ‘Sony’, ‘VR’ and ‘space robots’ in the same sentence would lead many to assume the context must relate to a PlayStation game. Not so. The Japanese electronics giant is aware that outside the realms of gaming, the immersive visual medium represents a significant tool for science and learning.

Sony has been working with NASA to create Mighty Morphenaut, a PlayStation VR demo that allows operators to practice controlling a robot in space.

The simulated experience takes place in a space shuttle and gives users the chance to control a humanoid as they take it through a number of tasks similar to those carried out on the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA’s ambitions to use humanoid robots for space exploration lead to the creation of Robonauts- dexterous humanoids that are designed to assist or even replace humans in space. The first Robonaut was successfully sent to the ISS in 2011 and allows NASA operators to remotely carry out simple, repetitive, or especially dangerous tasks.

Sony’s entry into the fray is designed to help NASA improve ways to control the robots from a distance. The latest demo runs on PS4 and uses the PlayStation VR which is scheduled for commercial release sometime in summer 2016. Using the headset and the Move controllers NASA is able operate the robots and carry out a number of tasks.

VR is increasingly being used in a number of industries, including advertising. With both Oculus Rift and Samsung's VR being marketing heavily across a number of industries, Sony will be keen to promote its version of the tech for uses outside its flagship gaming division.

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