man playing xbox

Virginia-class nuclear-power attack submarines are known for their stealthy design, impressive armoury and untraditional periscopes.

However, in a bid to become more user-friendly, it's out with the old and in with the familiar XBox 360 controller.

Instead of having the traditional tubes that only one person can see through, the submarines have two photonics masts with cameras that rotate 360 degrees.

The images from above are cast onto screens allowing everyone in the control room to monitor the surroundings in real-time.

However, to operate the masts sailors must manoeuvre 'clunky' handgrips based on helicopter joysticks.

Sailors found they needed extensive training and the joysticks proved unpopular - plus they cost an eye-watering $38,000.

Virginia-Class submarine PCU Illinois
Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class attack submarine PCU Illinois salute after bringing the ship to life

Lockheed Martin and US Navy Officials worked together experimenting with commercial off-the-shelf technology to improve the system.

Utilising the technological skills sailors grew up with, they found that they could intuitively use the Xbox controllers in minutes, eliminating the need for tiresome training.

Of course, the price of a Xbox controller also makes it an attractive option. It can be bought from anywhere in the world for a typical cost of $30.

The new controller will be introduced as part of the integrated imaging system for Virginia-class submarines, starting with the USS Colorado - which should be commissioned by November 2017.

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