The sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 is a tragic event that has captivated the world for over a century. Recently, there has been a fascinating discovery related to the exploration of the Titanic wreckage – the submersible used in the expeditions was controlled by a surprising piece of equipment: a $49.99 videogame controller.
In 2010, a team of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) embarked on a mission to explore the remains of the iconic Titanic. With the help of a specially designed submersible called the Nereus, they delved deep into the icy depths of the North Atlantic to uncover secrets from the ill-fated ship’s final resting place.
Traditionally, submersibles have been operated by complex control systems comprised of numerous joysticks, buttons, and switches. However, the team at WHOI saw an opportunity to simplify this process by utilizing a more accessible technology – a videogame controller. They repurposed an off-the-shelf Xbox 360 controller and connected it to the Nereus, marking a groundbreaking shift in the world of deep-sea exploration.
The decision to adopt a videogame controller was driven by multiple factors. Firstly, its ergonomic design meant that operators could easily manipulate the submersible’s crucial functions without wrestling with complicated control systems. As many operators were already familiar with videogame controllers, the learning curve was significantly reduced, allowing for smoother and more intuitive control of the submersible.
Furthermore, the use of a videogame controller helped reduce costs. Instead of manufacturing custom-built control systems, which can run into thousands of dollars, the team at WHOI found an affordable and widely available alternative in a $49.99 controller. This allowed them to allocate resources to other critical aspects of the expedition, such as instrument upgrades and sensor development.
The success of the videogame controller in operating the Nereus during the earliest expeditions to the Titanic led to its continued use in subsequent missions. Its versatility and functionality made it an irreplaceable tool in deep-sea exploration. The controller was responsible for maneuvering the submersible, controlling its robotic arms, and adjusting various scientific instruments for data collection.
However, it is important to note that the controller was not solely responsible for guiding the submersible. Highly skilled pilots with years of training were still in charge of making critical decisions and ensuring the safety and success of the missions. The videogame controller simply acted as an intuitive and cost-effective interface for their commands.
The adoption of a $49.99 videogame controller to control the Titanic submersible is a testament to the spirit of innovation and adaptability in the field of ocean exploration. It showcases how readily available consumer technology can be repurposed to overcome complex challenges and push the boundaries of what is possible.
This discovery serves as a reminder that groundbreaking advancements can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. The successful use of a videogame controller in such a significant scientific endeavor not only highlights its potential applications beyond entertainment but also reinforces the idea that innovation knows no bounds.