GM’s Self-Driving, Moon Car
According to U.S. News & World Report, “On Wednesday, May 26, 2021, Lockheed and GM announced that they would combine their technological and manufacturing expertise to build the electric vehicles for NASA’s Artemis program, named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology (Lockheed Martin, GM via AP).” This is the first step towards revisiting the moon and ultimately returning to Mars.
This recently-formed relationship between GM and Lockheed has come about in the hopes of providing NASA with vehicles that are able to handle off-roading conditions, but without all the bulky weight that usually comes with that capability. They need to be light and rugged and able to perform better than the standard Lunar Rovers NASA has used in the past, even as far back as the 1970s—which were also designed by the GM Company.
GM and Lockheed working together are important for NASA because without having better mobility it is going to be difficult to further explore the wonders of the moon, not to mention expanding those explorations towards Mars. Just imagine what could be found if astronauts could venture farther than 4.5 miles from where they landed. With the likes of these two venerated companies, NASA will likely have their new space SUVs very soon.
The goal of the Artemis program is to have a return mission to the moon in 2024. By then, the plan is to have the first set of rovers that are able to carry two astronauts at once, and another rover type that can drive autonomously. A self-driving rover could explore a broader landscape, particularly those areas too dangerous for astronauts to go. It’s truly an exciting and progressive move that will surely bring about some exciting discoveries.
The Driverless Car is Nearly Upon Us
What once sounded like complete futuristic fantasy is now upon us: the autonomous car. Though we are not seeing them out and about just yet, the reality of the driverless car is very near.
It’s so close in fact, car companies such as BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and Tesla are all working with the likes of Google and Apple to bring to life the car of the future. Sure, we’re not quite there yet, we are in what is considered to be the advanced testing stage and then production. Meaning that these machine-operated vehicles can, and will, be on the road. Countries all over the world are swarming to get in on the action by throwing millions of dollars towards the process of integrating self-drivers into society.
So what is keeping us from moving beyond the “advanced testing” stage? There seem to be some technical and ethical challenges engineers are struggling to solve. For instance, the driverless car will use cameras, radar, and lasers—yes, lasers—to measure distance and shapes. This is to help the vehicles “see” as a human would. And though efforts are being made to help driverless cars communicate with other cars, buildings, and signs, the problem remains that these vehicles are not able to communicate with other human drivers. What will the relationship of the driverless car be with the human-driven car? What happens if they collide? Who is at fault? These questions only scratch the surface of the depths of thought required to drive in high traffic, highways, and emergency situations, but there is no reason why companies such as GM can’t find ways of solving these setbacks.
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