Tests, upgrades and final checks are being carried out on the Robonaut 2, the humanoid spacefaring robot that has been in the works since 2007. The baby of NASA and General Motors, this sack of metal and wires has already produced a catalog of 34 new patents and, according to GM, is setting the stage for new safety features in forthcoming generations of its road vehicles. Sensor technology being developed in the R2 could deliver better lane departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control, and more intelligent parking assistance. That's good news and all, but can we ship it out to the ISS already -- we'd rather it be off-world when its instruction set switches from "serve humans" to "serve human meat."
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GM and NASA Engineers Prepare R2 for Space Duty

Technology on R2 plays role in future GM vehicle safety systems development

2010-07-07


HOUSTON – The countdown continues as General Motors and NASA engineers prepare Robonaut 2 for its planned fall mission to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

GM and NASA engineering teams are validating some of the key technologies on the humanoid robot, including advanced sensor and vision systems.

GM engineers on site at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, are sharing their results with colleagues at GM's Technical Center in Warren, Mich., so teams working on tomorrow's Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac cars and trucks can develop innovative safety technologies that will keep customers safe in the future.

Manufacturing engineers in GM's Research and Development operations also plan to use the findings to help develop future technologies that can make plants safer for workers at GM's global manufacturing facilities.

R2's technologies have real-world applications for sensor development, such as possible enhancements to lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, adaptive cruise control and rear park assist.

GM and NASA engineers have been working together on the R2 program since 2007. The advanced robotics partnership has generated 34 patents to date.

GM and NASA engineers are currently performing various test and upgrade procedures to prepare R2 for his mission, while laying the groundwork for adoption of R2's various technologies in GM's next generation of cars and trucks.