NASA chose a team of undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Akron to develop as well as test a helmet to aid its astronauts to finish their space missions and explorations.
The agency selected 10 teams in America to make augmented-reality or helmet-based display systems to enhance effectiveness and productivity during work in the outer space.
The team from the University of Akron, together with the Virtual Environments for Space Travel are scheduled to go to the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to examine their prototype as well as compete with other participants. Plus, the chosen design will be integrated into the new spacesuits.
Shiva Sastry, director of the Center for Data Science, IT, and Analytics of the university and a team adviser, said that the selection by NASA is an honor as it acknowledges the educational programs and technical talents they have at the UA.
NASA instructed different teams to make and examine displays thru Microsoft HoloLens, a pair of mixed reality smart glasses. This will be utilized to represent significant information such as graphics, procedures, suit status, and schedules to help astronauts finish their tasks in space.
Currently, they depend on audible instructions from mission control and crew members for equipment repair and lunar surface exploration. That is why the new helmets will give them the opportunity to become more productive and independent for their next space activity.
Junior electrical and computer engineering Major and team leader Kyle Vasulka said that he was very excited to realize science fiction thru his educational activities in the university. He also added that the project is a challenge for him that will enhance his learning.
While fine-tuning their software, the team from VEST plans to recruit more students before the contest. Each competing team will load its displays onto at HoloLens used by one person. The latter is going to carry out simulations of tasks like those accomplished by a range of astronauts in the outer space.
The tasks are composed of removing or reinstalling cables, and utilizing keys in order to unlock cases. The display will also be employed to examine reporting of information from the subject to his team members, including battery life and suit pressure.
The agency’s Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students Design Competition will be held from May 21 to 26. The students from the UA already released a video about their team design on their YouTube channel.