Sunday, September 1, 2013


For those who wonder the terrestrial benefits to a presence in space they have only to look to Ford Motor Company. Ford has begun a three year project with St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia that seeks to study how robots communicate in space. Why? Their goal is to develop smart networks between cars, traffic lights, and other objects here on Earth.  Ford and other car companies see where the future is going and they are getting prepared.

Where is the future going? Google is at the forefront of self-driving cars, but every company has their foot in the door; From self-parking, to braking, to cars that communicate with each other. *Side note - Mercedes Benz just started offering cars that talk to each other. Suppose the speed control is on but there is a curve ahead so you don’t see the traffic jam around the bend. Mercedes receives the warning from cars that already are around the bend and issues the warning to slow down. If the future of the car is driverless cars, Ford needs to understand the communications and the impediments.

Why is space communications important here on Earth? For one thing the robots in space are extremely redundant. They are equipped with multiple ways to handle communications and this would be important if not imperative on Earth vehicles. Many of the benefits require these life-saving information updates – from other cars, about other cars or a downed tree across the road, a sink-hole, the list goes on and on. In order to get out at the fore-front, Ford sees the communications that occur between robots in space as being terribly important.

What robots are they studying? Remember Robonaut 2 at the ISS? Also DLR’s Justin, a mobile humanoid robot, and the third theEurobot-a robot being developed by the ESA for use on other planets.

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST OR EVEN THE SECOND OR THIRD TIME THAT SPACE TECHNOLOGIES FROM NASA OR OTHERS IS THERE FOR THE TERRESTRIAL PRODUCTS. Consider that systems designed for the Mars rover are now being used on some vehicles for collision avoidance. Everything from invisible braces to scratch resistant lenses for your eyeglassestomemory foam for your bed came to you indirectly from NASA. If you are taking you temperature with an ear thermometer, that too! Shoe insoles that provide a ‘lift’ to your step? How about long distance communications, ever wonder what made calling Nonna in Rome from New Jersey possible? Or that smoke detector that saved so many lives. Safety grooving that was developed  by NASA at first for use specifically on runways to make it safer for jets when it was wet, now is used on highways, around swimming pools or at pedestrian crosswalks. And as if you needed more, water filters or cordless tools.

Turning to space to get the answers for something on Earth is the kind of idea that shows why Ford has been around forever and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.


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