NASA is busy planning missions for its Curiosity Rover vehicle which is currently on Mars. Because the robot is millions of miles away, it can take anywhere from 3mn to 30mn for a radio signal to go from Earth to Mars – this depends on the position of both planets on their respective orbits. This makes it unpractical to “remote control” the robot like you might do on earth, where things can be controlled in real-time.
To save time, NASA has created a technique where they use the robot’s sensors to retrieve 3D imaging of the its surrounding. From there, they can inspect the potential obstacles and prepare a sequence of motion that will direct the robot to do a particular task ranging from moving around to analyzing stuff on the soil.
And NASA can simulate all of this in a virtual environment which is powered by an NVIDIA Quadro workstation graphics card, and a pair of active-shutter LCD 3D Vision shutter glasses. The virtual environment is the closest thing to being actually next to the Rover on Mars, and allows NASA to plan and virtually execute the next sequence, which reduces the risk of error when this will be performed live. Now, it would be nice if they would make something that the public can see and play with!
We always knew that Gaming technology would serve a greater purpose than blowing stuff up – and here’s the proof.