US: Google has partnered with NASA to deliver its 3D mapping technology for use on the International Space Station. Project Tango, which was launched two months ago for Android smartphones with 3D sensors, uses robots to for mapping.
A 5-inch smartphone connected to a 3D-tracking and mapping program through a camera can now be attached to a robotic platform, or NASA Spheres, so users can navigate around the space station. The spheres are satellites about the size of bowling balls.
The 3D-tracking and mapping capabilities of Project Tango would allow Spheres to reconstruct a 3D-map of the space station and enable autonomous navigation of a floating robotic platform 230 miles above the surface of the earth.
Researchers published a video on YouTube.com that detailed how the new technology would be used and they were expressively excited about the partnership and the opportunities that lay in the future for space exploration.
Although Google did not deliver a specific launch date for the 3D mapping technology to be used in the field, it is believed that NASA and Google hope to have the project off the ground sometime this summer. The partnership with NASA should allow the space program to get a boost in terms of ability to map new areas and see new regions of space and the planet.