UTTechnology NewsTitan submersible used Logitech controller, had ‘catastrophic safety problems’: Reports
UTTechnology NewsTitan submersible used Logitech controller, had ‘catastrophic safety problems’: Reports
Technology News

Titan submersible used Logitech controller, had ‘catastrophic safety problems’: Reports

Authorities are engaged in a massive search and rescue operation looking for the five-member crew of the “Titan” submersible that went on an expedition to tour the wrecks of the famous cruise ship Titanic. Now, some questionable design features of the “innovative” submersible vessel have come to light.

One particular revelation that took the internet by storm was how the Titan submersible seemed to use a modified off-the-shelf Logitech gaming controller to control the vessel. If a video of a news segment released by CBS News six months ago is anything to go by, Titan might have gone missing while being piloted using such a controller.

But the use of the gaming controller is not as egregious as it seems. Gaming controllers are often used to control advanced technology and weaponry, such as rocket systems and drones. Wired magazine reported in 2008 how Xbox controllers were used to pilot drones. Another report the same year by The Register showed how a robot used to dispose of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) was controlled using a remote from Nintendo’s Wii console.

The use of a gaming controller to control a submersible vessel is not out of place. But there are some other clues in the same CBS News segment that points towards much greater issues with the vessel.

For the report, journalist David Pogue signed up for an expedition to the Titanic. The waiver that he had to sign before going on the journey immediately raised some red flags.

“An experimental submersible vessel that has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma, or death” is how the waiver was referred to the Titanic, according to Pogue.

AP reported yesterday that OceanGate, the company behind Titan and its expeditions, was repeatedly warned that the way it was developed could cause “catastrophic safety problems.” AP cited lawsuit filings between the company and former director of marine operations David Lochridge.

The Titanic is sitting nearly 4,000 meters below the surface of the ocean and OceanGate says Titan is designed to go to that depth. But according to Lochridge, the vessel’s passenger viewport was only certified for depths of up to 1,300 meters and the company did not pay for the manufacturer to build a viewport certified for 4,000 meters.

But according to AP, Lochridge’s main concern was with how OceanGate decided to rely on sensitive acoustic monitoring to detect flaws instead of scanning the hull. Sensitive acoustic monitoring relies on detecting cracking or popping sounds made by the hull under pressure.

“This was problematic because this type of acoustic analysis would only show when a component is about to fail — often milliseconds before an implosion — and would not detect any existing flaws prior to putting pressure onto the hull,” said Lochridge’s claim against OceanGate, according to AP.

During the expedition, Pogue also pointed out how the vessel had elements of “MacGyvery.” This refers to the popular show MacGyver and can easily be translated into the Indian word jgad. Pogue pointed out how they were using construction pipes as ballast.

While it is not clear whether the same design and construction were used in the Titan vessel that went missing, these issues point to a bit of a lack of an existing technical approach to safety with a focus on cost-cutting.