It was likely only a matter of time before the technological gap between space robotics and automobiles merged, but regardless, it has happened. Ford (NYSE:F) is teaming up with the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia on a project spanning three years to study how robots communicate in space in hopes of one day bringing that technology back to earth and into your car, Forbes is reporting.
Numerous companies have been working on a sort of communications grid that would see a marriage of correspondences between cars, traffic lights, and other road markers — with the ultimate goal of improving emergency response times and easing traffic congestion, Forbes says. The publication goes on to explain that robots are an ideal study subject because in space, the margin of error for failed communications is significantly more severe.
As a result, space-bound robots are equipped with incredibly redundant communications systems, so if one aspect were to fail, there’s a healthy safety net that it can fall back on. Ford is hoping to bring this sort of redundancy to the roads of the world. “We are analyzing the data to research which networks are the most robust and reliable for certain types of messages, as well as fallback options if networks were to fail in a particular scenario,” Ford’s Oleg Gusikhin said, in a company release.
Space advancements and the automotive world have actually been working in tandem for a while. The original controls that can be implemented to allow paraplegics the ability to maneuver a car were actually a varied take on the controls used to drive the moon buggy, Forbes notes. The Mars Phoenix Rover used systems to help it land on the planet that are now being implemented in automobiles as collision-avoidance equipment.
Three different robots will be used for Ford’s research endeavors: DLR’s “Justin,” which is a mobile humanoid robot; the Eurobot Ground, which is being developed by the European Space Agency to work on the surface of other planets; and the Robonaut 2, which is currently aboard the International Space Station.