February 04, 2010, 4:32 PM — Instead of sending a regular astronaut to make a dangerous spacewalk outside the International Space Station, NASA might some day soon be able to send a robotic astronaut to do the job instead.
NASA and General Motors (GM) announced late on Wednesday that they are working together to develop and build humanoid robots that can work side-by-side with humans . The idea, according to NASA, is to build robots that can help astronauts during dangerous mission and help GM build cars and automotive plants.
"This cutting-edge robotics technology holds great promise, not only for NASA, but also for the nation," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. "I'm very excited about the new opportunities for human and robotic exploration these versatile robots provide across a wide range of applications."
Earlier this week, NASA announced that the White House's proposed budget for the agency includes $3 billion for developing robotics, with a focus on preparing for robotic precursor missions . That means NASA is planning to land robots on the moon, for example, so they can gather information and send back data and video in advance of future human space missions.
NASA's partnership with GM is a separate effort to advance robotics .
The space agency has been a major proponent of using robots in space. Robotic rovers and the Phoenix Lander have been working on the surface of Mars, making significant scientific findings, such as the discovery that Martian soil can support life and that there is water ice on the Red Planet .