NASA Crowdsources VR Tech for Mars Exploration

HeroX, the marketplace working on crowdsourced solutions, has teamed with Epic Games and Buendea to roll out a competition called the NASA MarsXR Challenge, a press release says.

The contest seeks contributions to a VR testbed environment, copying the “experiences and situations” astronauts might encounter on Mars.

NASA is working with Buendea on a Mars XR Operations Support System, utilizing Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5.

Participants in the competition will get the first access to the virtual reality environment.

The press release says users will get things like “Full Martian days, with the orange hues of day transitioning to blue at night,” along with changing weather and gravity, lots of Mars terrain, existing assets like suits and rovers, and more.

The release says there will be a need to make “assets and scenarios within the virtual reality environment that model the types of tasks that may need to be performed during early human expeditions to Mars, which can then be used to expose researchers and test subjects to immersive and realistic spacewalk activities while on the red planet. ”

The information gained will help NASA prepare for human exploration of Mars in the future.

“Creators can use Unreal Engine to build realistic simulation scenarios to help prepare NASA for future missions, whether that’s the moon or to Mars,” said Sébastien Lozé, Unreal Engine business director for simulation at Epic Games. “Whether you’re a game designer, architect, hobbyist or rocket scientist, anyone can build with UE5, and we can’t wait to see the immersive simulations the community comes up with.”

In other Epic Games news, PYMNTS wrote that Epic Games has filed a motion to stop Google from pulling Bandcamp, the independent music storefront, from the Android App Store.

Epic had acquired Bandcamp last month in undisclosed terms.

Google had been threatening to remove the creator marketplace from its app, mentioning Bandcamp’s use of its own billing system that would sidestep Google’s fee – the same issue that Epic itself had faced over its Fortnite controversy, which is still ongoing.

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