Military equipment controlled by Xbox controllers? That’s crazy right? It’s happening. The US Navy will begin stocking its modernized Virginia-class submarines with them, starting with the USS Colorado that will be commissioned in November. Sailors aboard the high-tech submarine will use the Xbox controller to maneuver the periscope.
In the movies, a single person has to peer through an eyepiece, but today the high-tech version of the instrument uses high-resolution cameras and displays images on big screens.
The problem is, the joystick and the control panel Lockheed Martin developed to steer it cost around $38,000. Very expensive. And the joystick was heavy and clunky too. It also takes hours to train a sailor to use it. So when the military contractor tested the Xbox controller as a replacement, sailors were able to figure out controls on their own within a few minutes. Plus, each controller will only set the Navy back $30. Now they can scrap the pricey specialized joystick and panel.
It seems odd that a government institution would actually save money while streamlining something, but this is actually happening. Good for the navy. Everyone knows how to use an Xbox controller, so it is a natural fit for the sub.