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Project Tango will power NASA’s SPHERES robotic platform, will launch into space later this summer

Google has now announced it has been working with NASA since last year with the goal of using Project Tango within NASA's SPHERES robotic platform.
April 18, 2014

While Project Ara is more immediately aimed at providing a commercial solution for improving the lives of smartphone users around the globe, the equally ambitious Project Tango is currently geared towards developers and organizations looking to find unique ways to make use a device that is essentially aware of its own surroundings.

Project Tango utilizes a pair of cameras and an infrared projector to measure depth and observe movement, and then takes this information and creates a 3D map of the space around it. Aside from this, the specs inside the Tango ‘phone’ aren’t much different from your typical handset, such as its quad-core SoC and 2GB of RAM.

Google and NASA are working to integrate Tango with NASA’s own robotic platform, SPHERES.

Project Tango has a lot of potential, and Google has already been releasing the device into the hands of various partners over the last couple months. One of these partners is NASA, and today Google revealed a bit about what NASA intends to do with Project Tango.

Project Tango and its role in SPHERES

Since the summer of 2013, Google ATAP’s Tango team has been working closely with a NASA team at the Ames Research Center. The focus of their relationship has been on working to integrate Tango with NASA’s own robotic platform, called SPHERES.

The goal of the SPHERES platform is basically to create autonomous robotic assistants that can eventually handle the more menial tasks for those aboard the ISS space station. Where does Tango play into all this? Basically the smartphone plugs into the SPHERES robotic prototype, providing it with the “eyes” needed to properly navigate around the space station.

When might SPHERES and Tango actually make their way beyond testing and into space? Sooner then you’d think. If all goes well, Project Tango and SPHERES should be launched into orbit later this summer. This is certainly a unique use of the technology behind Project Tango and makes it clear that Tango’s long-term effects could go way beyond simply giving us a cool 3D sensing handset to play around with.