You can’t criticize Google for thinking small.
Long before it revealed Project Tango, its ambitious 3D-mapping initiative, to the public, Google was working with NASA to bring the technology to the International Space Station, the company’s Advanced Technology group announced yesterday.
Google and NASA plan to integrate Tango into a robotic platform, dubbed SPHERES, which flies around the ISS to help out astronauts. Tango’s 3D-sensing capabilities would allow the robots to navigate the space station autonomously, as well as map the environment in real time. While the robots will initially serve as assistants to the astronauts aboard the ISS, eventually they may be able to perform maintenance duties on their own.
The Project Tango-equipped SPHERES robots are currently scheduled to launch into space this summer. Below, you can check out a zero-gravity test performed by the Tango team.
It’s unclear what Google actually learned from this zero-gravity test, but it shows that the possibilities for Project Tango are literally out of this world.