GM Plans to Launch Robonaut 2 Before Chevy Volt 1

photo robonaut r2 gm nasa
Photos via General Motors

The much-hyped, much-delayed Chevy Volt is due out in "late 2010." At least that's the latest estimate. Meanwhile, Volt-maker General Motors plans to launch a robot to the International Space Station on Nov. 1.So GM will have a robot in space before they have an electric-gasoline car on Planet Earth. Is this a fair comparison? Not really. But the Robonaut 2, aka R2, has "advanced sensor capabilities" that will "help GM to bring to market innovative future vehicle safety systems."

So it's auto-related. Also, "the extraordinary dexterity and sensitivity of R2's hands could potentially assist in a variety of manufacturing environments," GM says.

The R2 is the result of a partnership between GM and NASA. The humanoid will be aboard the space shuttle Discovery when it launches, and help astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Besides R2's vehicle applications, it looks pretty darn cool.

photo robonaut gm hands nasa

The Volt doesn't look too bad, either. Although it's been so many years since the car was promised, it seems like the design is already old. Still, the car is seen by some as the next frontier in driving. USA Today says the Volt overcomes two weaknesses of previous electric vehicles: Short driving range and long charging time.

I wonder what the R2 will bring us. Maybe a vehicle that more people can afford? The Volt has a net price of $32,780 after tax credits are applied. Leases will be offered for $350 a month with $2,500 due at signing. When is the Volt coming out? GM is taking orders for the car now. It's due to launch in seven markets—California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan and Washington, D.C., beginning in "late 2010," the company says.

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