Star wars fans get ready…NASA has been working with General Motors (GM) to produce a real life R2D2. Named, Robonaut 2, or R2 for short, this humanoid like robot is packed and ready to blast into outer space this week. R2 will be riding along the space shuttle Discovery for his first work assignment at the International Space Station (ISS).
In 2007, NASA and GM engineers teamed together to begin constructing R2. Featuring advanced controls, sensor and vision technologies, R2 was designed to assist astronauts aboard the ISS. R2’s launch is schedueld for today, November 1st. GM’s press release dated October 25th, 2010 states that “One of GM’s core goals is to lead in advanced technology and quality, said Alan Taub, GM’s vice president of Global Research and Development. “This partnership and the development of R2 are providing us with innovative technologies that will help us achieve these goals in both our future products and plants.”
The sensory technologies used to design R2 will have down to earth practicalities as well. The vision sensors designed for the robot will be used to make future vehicle safety systems. Some of GM’s current products such as Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac already offer crash avoidance technologies that utilize similar sensor technology. Some of these technologies include: lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, adaptive cruise control and rear park assist.
In addition, GM hopes to make the workplace safer as well. R2’s hands are extremely skillful and could be used to assist in manufacturing environments that are hazardous.
NASA and GM have partnered together on several occasions, dating back to the 1960’s when they designed the Apollo navigation systems together. GM also helped with the deployment of the Lunar Rover Vehicle, the first car like vehicle to be used on the moon.