U.S. Navy to replace $38,000 joysticks with Xbox controllers, and here’s why

Complex problems often have simple solutions. Here’s a classic example for the same. US Navy’s Virginia-class submarines have advanced periscope with two photonics masts that rotate 360 degrees. And it is controlled with a helicopter-style stick. Navy officers and sailors found the controller very clunky and heavy in their hands. Lockheed Martin has now decided to replace it with the popular Xbox controller. Yes, they are going to replace a $38,000 control panel with a $40 off-the-shelf Xbox controller. Here’s why,

“That joystick is by no means cheap, and it is only designed to fit on a Virginia-class submarine,” said Senior Chief Mark Eichenlaub, the John Warner’s assistant navigator. “I can go to any video game store and procure an Xbox controller anywhere in the world, so it makes a very easy replacement.”

This change not only reduces the costs but also reduces the training required. Officers and sailors were able to figure out how to use Xbox controller on their own within minutes. The Xbox controller will be included as part of the integrated imaging system for Virginia-class submarines beginning this November.

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