David Bruemmer and Douglas Few, engineers at the US Department of Energy's Idaho National Lab in Idaho Falls, have put together an unlikely use for the Wiimote—they've hacked the remote so it can control a bomb-disposing, landmine-detecting, machine gun-carrying robot.
The Packbot robot, which is manufactured by iRobot in Massachusetts, is 70 cm long, transports itself via inbuilt tracks and is usually controlled via joystick-like device. However, the joystick method is problematic because it separates speed and direction controls, therefore requiring the soldier's undivided attention. The Wiimote hacks works exactly as you would expect; by simply waving the remote around the robot moves accordingly, and when an object of explosive interest is detected, the Wiimote's in-built vibration feedback goes nuts. We're guessing the B-trigger shoots the on-board machine gun, and if it doesn't, it definitely should.
The crazy modding pair plan to get to work on the iPhone next. They reckon soldiers should not need to lug laptops around with them when a modified iPhone could do the task equally well. First stop; iPhone controlled Packbot, complete with streaming footage. Now, there's something you won't get going on WinMob. [New Scientist]