US submarines will use Xbox 360 controllers to operate their periscopes

Gamers have debated for years over which controller designs may have been the best for playing games, but for the US Navy's purposes, it has decided that the Xbox 360 controller is what it wants to use.

According to a report, the periscope on the new Virginia-class submarines will be controlled by the very same Xbox 360 controllers that the sailors operating it will have used while playing games as they grew up. The sailors' familiarity with how to use the controller is one of the reasons it has been chosen, as the Navy doesn't have to spend hours training them on how to use it, something they do have to do with the clunky helicopter styled stick that they have been using.

These modern submarines no longer have the mechanical periscope that would have dropped down upon request and been peered through by one person at a time; physically steering the device with two hands like a large pair of binoculars. They now use monitors linked up to high-resolution cameras on masts which are then controlled remotely.

In addition to the new controller being familiar, it's also lighter, costs less than $30, and can be replaced by a short trip to almost any mall. Whereas the photonic mast handgrip system in use before would havecost upwards of $38,000, with only a few malls having a submarine periscope controller shop.

As advanced as militaries around the world may be, every now and again a story leaks out about an antiquated piece of technology or something that might be seen as being quite basic being in control of some immense piece of hardware, like an aircraft carrier.

An Xbox 360 controller is not an advanced piece of equipment but it appears that this is quite a smart usage of something that is readily available, cheap, efficient, and able to serve its purpose.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot | Image from US Navy via The Virginian-Pilot

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