General Motors and NASA have once again joined forces, and the result is an innovation that benefits both astronauts and auto workers.
The Human Grasp Assist device – otherwise known as K-glove or Robo-Glove – will help astronauts and auto workers reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries while helping them do their jobs. The Robo-Glove is a result of GM and NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which saw the first human-like robot launched into space in 2011.
Using leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand, the team of engineers, researchers and scientists were able design a robot that could operate tools designed for humans. This technology was also used when making the Robo-Glove, so the wearer can hold a grip longer and more comfortably when working with tools.
Using the finger actuation system of R2, the Robo-Glove’s actuators are embedded into the upper portion of the glove to provide grasping support to human fingers. The pressure sensors are incorporated into the fingertips of the glove, and they will detect when the user is grasping a tool. When the user grasps the tool, the synthetic tendons automatically retract, pulling the fingers into a gripping position and holding them there until the sensor is released.
The first prototype of the Robo-Glove was completed in March 2011, and a second generation design was tested three months later. There’s no word yet when we could be seeing them used in auto plants.
Watch the Robo-Glove video below.