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Chrysler and NASA join forces on technology

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Chrysler announced Tuesday it has entered a three year agreement with NASA to share information on technology the automaker and space program have in common.

The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based car company, which emerged from bankruptcy nearly a year ago, said it plans to collaborate with NASA on several areas including materials engineering, robotics, radar, battery systems and other energy storage mediums.

"This is a great opportunity to share knowledge and data in areas where both Chrysler Group and NASA have a vested interest," said Scott Kunselman, senior vice president of Chrysler Engineering, in a statement.

Chrysler, which makes the Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Ram, said it has a history of working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

For example, the company said it built rockets for the Mercury Project, which put the first American in space in 1961. Chrysler said it subsequently built boosters for the first two Apollo spacecraft.

The announcement comes as Chrysler and its Detroit counterparts look to reinvent the American automotive industry following a period of steep declines in auto sales.

Chrysler and its larger competitor, General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), both went bankrupt last year amid a deep recession and a shift in consumer demand toward smaller, more fuel efficient cars.

In June 2009, Chrysler sold most of its assets to Italian automaker Fiat as part of a plan to exit bankruptcy protection. The two companies have since been working together to produce a line of economy cars.

The agreement announced Tuesday marks the second time NASA engineers have been called upon to provide technical expertise on automobile technology.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced late last month that NASA engineers will provide technical assistance to help federal regulators uncover whether electronic defects are to blame for unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles worldwide over the last several months for safety issues, including instances that resulted in injury or death when a car accelerated without notice.  To top of page

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