The $40 Game Controller Used on the OceanGate Submersible

OceanGate submersible and Logitech GamePadOceanGate submersible and Logitech GamePad

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The OceanGate submersible incident made headlines this week. People wondered where the missing sub exploring the Titanic wreckage was for days, but there was one other thing that stood out.

It seems that this submersible was exploring the ocean’s depths while controlled by a Logitech gamepad. Why did OceanGate do this? Is this a unique situation? Here’s what we know.

How the OceanGate Submersible was Controlled

It appears that the device that controlled the OceanGate submersible was something many gamers are familiar with — the Logitech F710 Wireless Gamepad, a device you can find on Amazon.

The Logitech F710 Gamepad

Logitech’s F710 Gamepad is advertised as a PC game controller. It’s compatible with Windows, Chrome OS, and even some smart TVs. 

Logitech F710 Gamepad

It’s unclear how much this Gamepad was modified to make it a sufficient tool to navigate the ocean depths. But out of the box, this four-switch D-pad game controller is very similar to an Xbox or PlayStation controller. 

The 710 Wireless Gamepad runs on two AA batteries. You can connect it to Wi-Fi and use it as a wireless controller, or plug it in with the included range-extending cable

Many Vessels Are Controlled with Similar Devices

Although it seems crazy, Steven Wright, an associate professor of engineering at the University of West of England, told CBS News that a lot of air and sea vessels are at least partially controlled by devices similar to video game controllers. 

In fact, they’re even used by some military submarine crews.

However, there are a couple of major differences between what other vehicles use and what it seems OceanGate used:

  1. They don’t usually act as a vessel’s primary steering system. Instead, they control a computer, which controls the steering system.
  2. They’re usually very advanced, and it’s still unclear to what degree OceanGate’s was modified, apart from the analog joysticks.

Knowing all the details of this fatal mission to the Titanic wreckage, using a Logitech Gamepad seems ridiculous. But it’s not a totally unique situation.

How the Logitech Gamepad Navigated the Ship

According to Today, this is how OceanGate navigated their journey to the Titanic wreckage:

  1. A surface ship follows the submersible’s path, looking for obstacles and helping them navigate through the dark ocean.
  2. The surface ship sends text messages with directions to the submersible operator.
  3. The operator uses the Logitech Gamepad to steer the submersible. 

OceanGate probably took what other air and ship pilots were doing and put their own spin on it. While it wasn’t what caused the submersible to lose communications in the end, it’s definitely an interesting part of what’s sure to become a big piece of Titanic history.

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