The Navy’s fourth USS Colorado attack submarine has recently gone into service with an Xbox controller onboard. No, not so sailors can play Overwatch: they’ll actually be using the gaming device to steer the vehicle’s two photonics masts, which you can think of as high-tech replacements for typical periscopes.
The masts don’t require periscope tubes to work and rely on high-res cameras to capture images to display on a big screen instead. When the military first announced that it’s using an Xbox controller on the Colorado, it said the device was replacing the joystick and control panel Lockheed Martin originally designed for the sensors.
The original controls would’ve cost the Navy around $38,000, which is a ton of money to spend on a system that sailors found clunky and difficult to use. So, Lockheed Martin subbed them with controllers during the trial phase and found that operators were able to figure out how to maneuver the high-tech periscopes using the devices within just a few minutes.
The Navy now doesn’t have to spend extra for training — and controllers only cost $30 a pop.