GM helps NASA robot evolve

  • 15-Feb-2010 02:45 EST
robots - mcm size.jpg

 Robonaut2 was designed to use the same tools as humans and can lift (not just hold) a 20-lb (10-kg) object both near and away from its body. (NASA)

Engineers and scientists from General Motors Co. and NASA are working together through a Space Act Agreement at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, to build a new humanoid robot capable of working side by side with people.

Using control, sensor, and vision technologies, future robots could help GM build safer cars and factories, as well as assist astronauts during hazardous space missions. The two organizations, with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, developed and built the next iteration of Robonaut.

The new robot—Robonaut2, or R2—can use its hands to do work beyond the scope of prior humanoid machines. It was designed to use the same tools as humans and can lift (not just hold) a 20-lb (10-kg) object both near and away from its body. That weight is about four times heavier than what other dexterous robots can handle, according to GM and NASA.

Alan Taub, GM Vice President for Global Research and Development, noted that the technologies that went into R2 can be considered for use by automotive engineers. “When it comes to future vehicles,” he said, “the advancements in controls, sensors, and vision technology can be used to develop advanced vehicle safety systems.”

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