US Navy & Xbox: Why Use a $38k Joystick When You Can Use a $30 Controller?
The US Navy will begin swapping out expensive periscope joysticks in exchange for off-the-shelf Xbox controllers.
There may be no need to retire your Xbox-playing when reaching adulthood.
The U.S. Navy has begun using Xbox controllers to operate the periscopes on some of their most advanced submarines, replacing an expensive joystick with off-the-shelf game controllers. The price for the typical periscope joystick is $38,000. An Xbox controller? $30.
While the move may appear surprising, it combines two major desires of the US military: capitalizing on the technological skills that people grow up with and reducing costs with off-the-shelf technology. The latest move with using an Xbox controller to operate the periscopes stemmed from a joint effort by the Navy and Lockheed Martin to reduce costs and capitalize on sailors experience with video games. Many sailors are of the age that grew up playing video games.
“The Navy got together and they asked a bunch of J.O.s and junior guys, ‘What can we do to make your life better?’ And one of the things that came out is the controls for the scope. It’s kind of clunky in your hand; it’s real heavy.”-Kyle Leonard, the assistant weapons officer of the USS John Warner, speaking about junior officers and sailors to the Virginian-Pilot
It's no game: The U.S. Navy's most advanced submarines will start using Xbox controllers https://t.co/NFRK6DnrCT
— The Virginian-Pilot (@virginianpilot) September 15, 2017
The Navy recently demonstrated the capability of the Xbox controller aboard the USS John Warner, as it was traveling from its home in Norfolk, Virginia to Groton, Connecticut. According to reporting by the Virginian-Pilot (a newspaper for the US Navy), the Navy has been doing extensive testing for the past two years to make the transition. The expectation is that the Xbox controller will be part of the integrated imaging system for Virginia-class submarines (such as the soon-to-be-commissioned USS Colorado).
The periscope aboard subs like the USS John Warner is much more advanced than the popular image of periscopes typically displayed in movies and TV shows. Instead of the rotating tube where one person is looking out at a time, Virginia-class submarines are outfitted with high-resolution cameras that are displaying images on large monitors to multiple people inside of the control room. Two photonics masts that rotate 360 degrees are controlled by a helicopter-style joystick. And soon, an Xbox controller.
— Louis-Marie FUSCO (@LMFusco) September 21, 2017
Why Is This Important?
The Xbox controller is just the start of transitioning submarines to better reflect and take advantage of the technological experience of sailors. Outside of the Xbox controllers in exchange of the unpopular and expensive helicopter joysticks, the Navy also envisions outfitting submarines with the iPads and touchscreens that many sailors also have experience with.
It is a way to make the operation of a Navy sub more intuitive for a tech-savvy generation.
According to Senior Chief Mark Eichenlaub, the USS John Warner’s assistant navigator, this is part of an effort to capitalize on the technological experiences of sailors and make the operating the features on a sub more intuitive. “They want to bring in sailors with what they have at home on their personal laptop, their personal desktop, what they grew up with in a classroom," said Eichenlaub, speaking to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper. He envisions an experience reminiscent of the movie Minority Report, where Tom Cruise's character effortlessly interacted with glass panels full of information. "Ideally, what they want to see in 10 years down the road is, there’s basically a glass panel display with windows, and you can just pull a window of information, review that, push it off, bring in the next window,” he continued.
There is of course another major benefit of incorporating off-the-shelf technologies like Xbox controllers and iPads within the US Navy and other areas of the military. As we know from cracked smartphones or drawer full of unworkable gadgets, tech is prone to needed a replacement. But for subs of the future, they may no longer need a new $38,000 helicopter-style joystick. They may just need to buy an Xbox controller from Amazon.
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.
- July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
- Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
- NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
- Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
- Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
- These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.
- Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
- The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
- If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.