GM, NASA working on robotic gloves for human use

In a joint effort between NASA and General Motors, a new robotic glove is in development to help reduce fatigue for both astronauts and autoworkers.

Spawned from the Robonaut 2 project between the two companies, which sent a robot into space last year, is the Human Grasp Assist device. Also referred to as Robo-Glove or K-glove, it was part of the human-like robot R2 project’s design to be able to use tools made for humans, which had very successful results. As for use here on earth, the glove would act to reduce the amount of force required for a human to operate the tools.

“When fully developed, the Robo-Glove has the potential to reduce the amount of force that an auto worker would need to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions,” said Dana Komin, GM’s manufacturing engineering director, Global Automation Strategy and Execution. “In so doing, it is expected to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury.”

Last year the first prototype was completed, and for the current prototype GM and NASA submitted 46 patent applications, four of which are for the Robo-Glove. The latest version is about 2 pounds in weight, and is powered by a lithium-ion battery, and features a small display for necessary functions. The upcoming prototype is expected to be even lighter.

“We are continuously looking for ways to improve safety and productivity on the shop floor,” Komin said. “Our goal is to bring this technology to the shop floor in the near future.”

By: Alexandra Koken