NASA, GM robot preps for space mission

Robonaut 2, a robot created by NASA and GM engineers, is heading to the International Space Station.

Suzanne Ashe
Suzanne Ashe has been covering technology, gadgets, video games, and cars for several years. In addition to writing features and reviews for magazines and Web sites, she has contributed to daily newspapers.
Suzanne Ashe

Robonaut 2, better known as R2, is packed and ready to blast into outer space next week aboard the space shuttle Discovery. GM

While "robots in space" might sound like a cliche, the Robonaut 2 (R2), will finally be blasting off into outer space next week aboard the space shuttle Discovery. R2's assignment, at the International Space Station, is to assist the astronauts as they work.

GM and NASA created R2 to further vehicle safety systems. Because R2 has advanced sensor capabilities, researchers are able to improve features in vehicles, such as crash avoidance. R2's hands also have incredible dexterity and sensitivity that could some day be used in manufacturing industries.

"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."

You can track R2's journey in space from General Motors' Facebook page and Twitter, @GMBlogs. The platforms will feature photos, videos and text updates from Sunday, October 31 and Monday, November 1. This will be the last planned space mission for Discovery; NASA scrapped its space shuttle program.