R2 Prepared for Shuttle Trip to International Space Station
Robotic Industries Association Posted 10/26/2010Humanoid Robot to Assist Astronauts with Tasks
Robonaut 2, better known as R2, is packed and ready to blast 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 have a long history of partnering on key technologies, dating to 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.
About General Motors
General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 208,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, FAW, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation.