Chrysler and NASA are joining forces to develop new technology they say could lead to better road cars and rocketships.
Under a three-year deal announced today, the struggling automaker and the nation’s space agency will develop and share technologies in composite materials, wireless technology and battery systems. Batteries are increasingly important as Chrylser, like the rest of the auto industry, embraces electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. And Chrysler’s announcement follows a similar deal between Ford and United Space Alliance, a lead contractor for the space shuttle.
“This is a great opportunity to share knowledge and data in areas where both Chrysler Group and NASA have a vested interest,” Scott Kunselman, senior VP of Chrysler engineering, said in a statement. “We value the opportunity to work with NASA and will implement what is learned to further improve our products.”
The work is already underway, and both Chrysler and NASA have created several “project teams” that include engineers from each entity. Chrysler is using NASA’s research into navigation sensors in automotive safety systems like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot detection.
This isn’t the first time Chrysler and NASA have worked together. The automaker built Redstone rockets for the Mercury space program in 1961. It also built boosters for the first two Apollo missions in Earth orbit.
“The investment in NASA technologies has led to hundreds of applications here on Earth for several decades now, and this collaboration with Chrysler promises to continue that tradition,” Mike Coats, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement.
Under a similar arrangement, Ford and United Space Alliance are customizing virtual-reality and computer-animation software to help make quick decisions about spacecraft maintenance and how best to handle unexpected events during a mission.
Photo of the Saturn 1B rocket, built by Chrysler, on the pad in 1973: Chrysler