Cars Coming Soon->Space Edition (Sort of)

NASA and GM's Robonaut2

Robonaut2, from GM and NASA

You know NASA’s glory days are over when the famed space agency signs a deal to work with the comparatively low-on-the-rung automotive business.

Harsh words, perhaps, but come on. Since when does NASA need to give the likes of Chrysler the time of day? NASA has sent spaceships to the outer rims of the solar system. It landed rovers on Mars and has been driving them around for seven years. Chrysler has given us… umm… the PT Cruiser. Some of which can’t even be driven on Earth for seven years.

Yet for some reason, NASA and Chrysler have entered into an alliance.

But don’t expect Pentastar-branded Mars landers or anything. Instead what the alliance could generate, according to the Detroit Free Press,

are lighter-weight materials, more dexterous, even human-emulating robots and advanced batteries that ease drivers’ worries about running out of electricity on a transcontinental trip.

Really? We need NASA for that? My, how the standards have dropped. But I guess if NASA can get humans to the moon and robots onto the surface of Mars, it can figure out how to get a car across the country. I just figured that Chrysler, being a car company and all, could figure that out on its own. I guess not.

On a similar note, NASA is by no means in an exclusive relationship with Chrysler. The “space” agency has also entered into a partnership with GM and recently showed off a new 300-pound man-like robot called Robonaut2 (or R2) that could expand the number of jobs robots now perform in assembly and powertrain manufacturing.

R2 will become a permanent resident of the International Space Station this fall when the robot lifts off on the Space Shuttle Discovery to undergo zero-gravity testing. The goal of R2 is to “develop a robotic assistant that can work alongside humans, whether they be astronauts in space or workers at GM manufacturing plants on Earth.”

The collaboration between commercial auto companies and a government space agency is interesting, to say the least. Seriously, how long before GM starts teasing the Robonaut2 V performance series?

Also, is it coincidence that government-funded NASA is now funneling dollars to government bailed-out automakers? Hmmm….


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  1. How about this question instead: Is it any surprise that NASA, the agency founded to pursue one of the most aggressive and high-tech transportation goals ever set in the U.S., now sees value in partnering with two companies that need to improve their use of cutting-edge robotic technology to effectively compete in the enormously complex and challenging business of building vehicles to safely transport human beings on less-challenging journeys?

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