Johnny 5 isn’t autonomous yet, so he needs help navigating the battlefield. US troops in Iraq are trained to use SUGVs (Small Unmanned Ground Vehicles) to be their eyes, ears, and even triggerfingers in highly hostile situations. These robots are cheap enough to almost be considered disposable, and allow the ground troops to explore intense areas with little or no risk to life. The army looked for an HID (Human Interface Device) that would allow subtle yet natural control over these advanced and important military robots. What did it come up with?
An Xbox controller. No, really, check the photo above. That’s a US trooper deploying a little battlebot with one hand and holding its controller in the other.
It makes sense, really. You can imagine that most soldiers in the war are of the age that they’d have at least some video game experience, especially with the Xbox. So instead of having to train the soldiers how to use some fancy $7000 wireless control system, why not let them use the controls they’re familiar with?