Already the gaming sensation of the moment, there’s now word that the Wii is being used for more than games of virtual tennis. The Wii remote will soon be helping to defuse bombs.

“The military has been working with the hardy Packbot for some time now, using the wheeled robot to sniff out and defuse explosives and landmines for U.S. soldiers. Traditionally, control over the bot has been accomplished with a joypad not unlike the kind that comes with an Xbox or a Playstation. That might seem like an easy fit for today’s tech-savvy soldier, but head engineer David Bruemmer notes otherwise.

“Our tests show 90 per cent of the operator’s workload goes into driving the robot rather than keeping an eye on the sensor data,” he said.

By virtue of its unique motion-detection capabilities, the Wiimote has streamlined the process and allows operators to focus more on the collected data and less on how to steer the Packbot. Bruemmer and his crew have also tweaked the Wii’s vibration feedback technology to “buzz” the operator when the Packbot detects something of interest in the field.”


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