9 Car Technologies Inspired From the Space Program


Resident Journalist


Resident Journalist
Jun 7, 2016
Kuala Lumpur
Technology as used on aeronautical and aerospace fields are the most futuristic, and it's good to know that some of them are applicable to the automotive industry.

Listed below are 9 of the coolest technology that had made way to the world of cars.

9. Heads-Up Display

Developed originally for fighter jets, the HUD is used for pilots to get critical information like airspeed, altitude and pitch angle without taking their eyes too far off the enemy in front.

Same reason behind the usage of HUD in modern cars, it allows drivers to read important gauges while staying in focus on their driving.

8. Flame-resistant fabric

NASA called for an increased research and resources to be put into the development of flame-resistant fabrics after the loss of three NASA astronauts in a cabin fire during training of Apollo 1.

The fabrics in the form of suits evolved all the way to current flame-resistant suits that we see today, commonly used by fire fighters and racing drivers.

7. GPS

The GPS available in your car and smartphone today are courtesy to the GPS formerly developed by the US Air Force by launching satellites to the atmosphere. It puts the era of 'asking for directions' to an end.

6. Tweel

The NASA Lunar Rover features specially-developed Tweel (a wheel that is combined with tyre) because of the harsh environment it operates in, requiring it to have a set of wheels that would survive almost any climate.

The Tweel is a collaboration between NASA and Michelin, and is marketed by Michelin to be used for industrial and agricultural applications.

5. Robotic arm

Previously called the Canadarm (because it was Canadian-built), the robotic arm made the life and work in space a lot easier. Astronauts use the robotic arm to perform various tasks in space and even to hold on to other spacecrafts.

The robotic arm is now widely used in automotive manufacturing line to execute pin-point precise work because it can be programmed through 3-axial coding. It can also carry heavy loads as well as holding sensitive things like even an egg.

4. Aerogel

Owners of the C6 Corvette agreed that the transmission tunnel can get pretty toasty as the gearbox is in the middle of the exhaust pipes. With new C7 Corvettes packing its exhaust system in an even tighter space, the problem is pretty obvious.

Thus, a NASA-developed material called the aerogel has been used for insulation. Aerogel is 99.8 percent air and is the lightest material in existence and is capable of insulating heat 39 times better than the best fibreglass.

3. Gold foil heat shield

With similar capabilities like the aerogel, plus the ability to dissipate radiation and extra durability, gold foil has been used for heat dissipation way before aerogel. NASA has been using gold foil for heat dissipation instead of silver or aluminium based materials.
<dl id="attachment_90984" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 470px;" data-mce-style="width: 470px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">
</dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Gold foil heat shield can partly be seen from the side of engine block of the Red Bull Racing F1 car.</dd></dl>
It was then used in the McLaren F1's engine bay to keep hot exhaust gases and heat inside at bay and from burning the engine cover. Even modern Formula 1 cars use it to separate exhaust heat from its firewall.

2. Fuel cells

Firstly used by NASA to store fuel for spacecraft and other satellites, fuel cells are now available on wider range of cars such as BMW i8 fuel cell prototypes, hydrogen Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Mirai.

1. Carbon-fibre

Formerly developed for rocket applications, the usage of carbon-fibre is now ever popular in aerospace and automotive industries because it is extremely high in strength and extremely low in weight, plus the ability to be formed in complex shapes.

Due to the unique strength-weight characteristics, the materials that has been used in high-end supercars can possibly be found in average daily cars in the near future as brands like BMW and Lamborghini are already revolutionizing production methods of carbon-fibre.
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