back to article 'Bundle' signals from SPACE seize control of small car in Germany

An internet hookup intended for interplanetary use has been used by an astronaut on the International Space Station to drive a small lego car located in a laboratory in Germany. Station commander Sunita Williams was able to drive the car around the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt last month by sending out …


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  1. Arachnoid

    Hmm brings to mind the Big Bang Theory episode in regard to getting someone the other side of the world to turn your lights on and off.

  2. chris lively


    Did these guys suddenly forget that we've been driving crap around on mars for quite some time?

    1. Tom 260

      Re: Wtf?

      Mars rovers are not directly driven, they are given sets of instructions such as go towards this rock and inspect it, and the rover decides how to go about doing it.

      1. Boyd Crow

        Re: Wtf?

        The rover is autonomous to the extent that it is sent a set of suggestions, which can be overridden by the rover, if they conflict with hazard avoidance, power drain or other safety routines.

    2. Blain Hamon

      Re: Wtf?

      Ironically enough, it's not about directly driving mars cars from earth. The sluggish speed of light means ping times would measure at about half an hour. Directly controlling on the moon, maybe, where the ping would be 2 seconds and change.

      The key difference is a new, flexible protocol that isn't hand-crafted to the task at hand. To analogize, this is TCP/IP whereas the current mars rover setups are doing direct dialup to a late 80s, early 90s-era BBS. (Would this make Voyager 1 morse code?)

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wtf?

        "through the BP network in a series of short hops"

        I see how that can work to bounce off a few satellites to go, for example, to the moon... but if we want to be sending signals to Mars there's still going to be at least 1 enormous hop involved. Best case I guess would be to have a set of comms satellites orbiting in mars-o-stationary orbit

        1. DayDragon

          Re: Wtf?

          What about if we had several satellites in an elliptical orbit between earths and mars orbit of the sun.

          We transmit to one satellite, it passesit on to the next closest to Mars, and so on, depending on where the Earth and Mars are in their orbit?

  3. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    New traffic court defense

    "Alien radio transmissions steered my car into that tree, your honor."

  4. Boyd Crow

    NASA needs new name for interplanetary network

    Clearly, this should be dubbed the "OuterNet"

    1. Ryan 7

      Re: NASA needs new name for interplanetary network

      If it isn't, we should probably organise a lynch mob.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here on earth...

    Can't wait for this to be more public and ported to OpenWRT.

    I have a system that is rather like the DSN - wifi routers chained through the bush. Nodes come online and disappear according to patches of direct sunlight, and the amount of water on the foliage.

    I have been trying nodes that have no battery (a backpack with 20 gelcells is not so much fun) - so the node comes up when direct sunlight hits the panel, and dies when a cloud goes over, regardless of what the OS thinks it is doing at the time.

    I have plans for some satellite nodes that hikers carry so that some valleys will get a brief satellite pass, as the hiker crests a pass.

    In some planned locations data traffic might stall the whole winter.

    And you thought BNC ethernet was a bit dodgy .....

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Congratulations, BITNet III has been born!

    Pity, USMCP6 has been gone for almost 20 years.

  7. Captain DaFt


    Since they already have R2 on the station, why didn't they let ground control manipulate it?

    Seems that actually controlling a real robot in space would be a better test than driving a toy car around.

    Or was it a safety concern? "Oops! My bad, that panel marked 'Environmental Control ' wasn't important, was it?"

  8. A J Stiles

    But .....

    Will they end up running out of BP addresses in a few years' time?

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