Humanoid Robot to Assist Astronauts With Tasks
Robonaut 2, better known as R2, is packed and ready for his ride
into outer space next week aboard the space shuttle Discovery for
his first real work assignment at the International Space Station
(ISS). R2 is the product of an advanced robotics partnership
between NASA and General Motors that began in 2007.
Engineers and scientists from NASA and GM worked together at the
Johnson Space Center in Houston to build the advanced humanoid
robot. Featuring advanced control, sensor and vision
technologies, R2 was designed to assist astronauts as they work
aboard the ISS. The launch is scheduled for Nov. 1. "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."
While the development of R2 has caught the attention of
technology enthusiasts, R2 technologies have real-world
applicability for GM, where engineers and researchers are sharing
their learning globally so that teams working on tomorrow's cars
and trucks have access to the latest technologies. For
example, R2's advanced sensor capabilities will help enable GM to
bring to market innovative future vehicle safety systems
Several current Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles
offer crash avoidance technologies that utilize sensor technology,
including lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, adaptive
cruise control and rear park assist. In addition, R2 technology
could be adapted to help make the workplace safer. The
extraordinary dexterity and sensitivity of R2's hands could
potentially assist in a variety of manufacturing environments.
"We envision the R2 technology transfer will enable GM to build
better, safer, higher quality vehicles in a more flexible, more
competitive and safer manufacturing environment," Taub said.
NASA and GM first collaborated on key technologies in the 1960s,
with the development of the navigation systems for the Apollo
missions. GM played a vital role in the development of the Lunar
Rover Vehicle, the first vehicle to be used on the moon.