NASA to replace astronauts with GM-built humanoid robots

Astronauts, America's beloved cowboys, are pissed about the Obama Administration killing manned spaceflight programs. Sounds like the right time for GM to brag about its astronaut-replacing R2 space robot NASA's sending into space this year. Launching tone-deaf PR in five...

GM dredged up an announcement from February today on Robonaut 2, or R2 — a robot developed jointly by NASA and General Motors under a cooperative agreement to develop a mechanical humanoid assistant to work alongside humans, whether they be astronauts in space or workers at GM manufacturing plants on Earth. The announcement has an interesting symmetry: Government spends money to prop up GM. Government cuts money from NASA. Government spends money on a GM-built robot. The circle of budgetary life continues.

GM's R2 is a torso-only robot that not only looks like a human, it is designed to work like one. With human-like hands and arms, R2 is able to use the same tools that station crew members use. and will undergo testing inside the International Space Station later this year because "The partnership of humans and robots will be critical to opening up the solar system and will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today."

But it's not just a "partnership" — which on its own sounds like the prologue to every sci-fi flick ever. GM and NASA claim the robots will actually replace human astronauts. From the press release:

"In the future, the greatest benefit of humanoid robots in space may be as an assistant or stand-in for astronauts during spacewalks or for tasks too difficult or dangerous for humans."

Talk about being tone-deaf to the current budgetary debate. Unless maybe that's the plan — the Obama Administration's forcing GM to take a bullet for them.

And what an easy bullet to fire. The list of silliness goes on. For example, the robot's name is R2. GM does know C3PO was the gold one and R2-D2 was the short one that looked like a trash can, right? Jeez, GM can't do anything right, can they? Also, GM robots have a history of suicidal tendencies, don't they?

All we know is there's better days for GM to have put out a press release like this.