Tag Archives: General Motors

Designed for astronauts, the RoboHand can double your hand’s strength — and soon, it will be available on Earth

The RoboGlove, a NASA and General Motors joint design intended to help astronauts perform heavy duty repairs, will become available on Earth. The technology has been licensed to Sweedish medical technology firm Bioservo Technologies.

GM principal engineer for robotics Marty Linn wearing the RoboGlove shakes hands with Robonaut 2.
Image credits NASA/GM

This glove is the product of a nine-year collaboration between GM and NASA, who partnered for the Robonaut 2 project — a humanoid robot meant to assist ISS astronauts with maintenance and repair works, which was launched in 2011. The technology that went into creating the robot’s hands, designed to be as dextrous and versatile as a human’s hands, were further developed into the RoboGlove.

This wearable tool is equipped with a network of pressure sensors that can detect when the user is holding an object and a series of actuators and synthetic tendons to apply extra grip.

Gif via youtube

“An astronaut working in a pressurized suit outside the space station or an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15 to 20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation,” said NASA in 2012 while the glove was still ion development. “But with the robotic glove they might need to apply only five to 10 pounds of force. The roboglove halves the amount of force needed”

The device is powered by a battery pack worn on the user’s belt and lends itself well to industries where workers have to put in sustained effort over long periods of time — such as assembly workers, manual laborers, and even surgeons.

Gif via youtube

Kurt Wiese, vice president of General Motors Global Manufacturing Engineering, said in a news release:

“The successor to RoboGlove can reduce the amount of force that a worker needs to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions.”

No timeframe for the glove’s deployment has been given yet, but this gripping technology is joining a growing number of products designed to make workers’ activities safer and more efficient. Companies such as Hyundai, BMW, and Panasonic have all announced they’re working on exoskeleton prototypes aimed at helping manufacturing workers.

K-glove NASA General Motors

K-glove grants astronauts and workers extra muscle

K-glove NASA General Motors

General Motors has always invested in technology which goes beyond the automotive applications for which the company is primarily known, a philosophy which I find most praise worthy, and teaming up with NASA is sure to always output performance. The latest to result from their partnership is the K-glove, a robotic glove designed to aid astronauts, as well as workers back on Earth, with streneous, repetitive tasks by granting a significant boost in force. Basically, the K-glove will offer its wearer an extra set of muscles.

“An astronaut working in a pressurized suit outside the space station or an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15-20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation” the teams say, “but with the robotic glove only five-to-10 pounds of force might need to be applied.”

Based on the Robonaut 2, a project where GM and NASA collaborated together as well, the K-glove is equipped with sensors, actuators, micro-controllers and tensors that mimic the nerves, muscles and tendons of a human hand. Sensors tell whenever the wearer is flexing his grip, like when grasping a tool, and triggers actuators placed on the upper section, which in turn activate synthetic tendons clamping down until the sensors are released. GM hopes to introduce the K-glove to workers on the assembly line.

“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, a G.M. manufacturing engineering director.

The K-glove, though still a prototype, weighs around two pounds and is powered by a standard lithium-ion power-tool battery, mounted on a belt-clip. A third-gen prototype is already in the works, which GM claims will be lighter, smaller and consume less power when ready.

via Slash Gear