Automotive engineering isn't rocket science, but that hasn't stopped NASA from becoming a hot topic in the auto industry. Not only have NASA and the NHTSA joined forces, but General Motors, which recently announced its partnership, revealed today that its joint-project Robonaut 2 humanoid robot is ready for space travel. Additionally, Chrysler has reportedly partnered with NASA to share research in several key areas.
GM's Robonaut 2, a 300-pound robotic upper body that includes a head, torso, two arms and two hands, will be launched into space this year, becoming a permanent addition to the team of the International Space Station. Once at the station, engineers will study R2's functionality in a zero-gravity environment, as well as tasking it with various operations within the station's interior. GM points out that as the robot is developed further and moved beyond the prototype stage, it could become a more significant member of the station crew, even performing spacewalking maneuvers on the exterior of the station.
Meanwhile, Chrysler has teamed with NASA for a three-year partnership that will see the two groups share research and information on areas of shared interest, according to a Detroit News report. Those areas are slated to include "materials, engineering, robotics, radar, battery systems and other energy storage mediums."
According to the report, NASA is particularly interested in Chrysler's lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control systems, which it believes could help with lunar module navigation. While no specific goals have been announced, the pair is likely looking to make headway in the area of battery packaging and storage capacity - a fundamental component of space exploration and an increasingly vital research area in the automotive industry.
"This is a great opportunity to share knowledge and data in areas where both Chrysler Group and NASA have a vested interest," said Scott Kunselman, Chrysler senior vice president in charge of engineering.
With Ford being the only major domestic automaker without NASA tie-ins, will it soon join the crew? Watch this space.
Source: Detroit News, GM