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NASA and GM develop power-assisted Robo-Glove

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March 13, 2012

NASA and GM engineers have created Robo-Glove, a power-assisted glove designed to keep ast...

NASA and GM engineers have created Robo-Glove, a power-assisted glove designed to keep astronauts and autoworkers from getting repetitive stress injuries

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Having trouble getting the lid off that pickle jar? Well, perhaps the Human Grasp Assist device can help. Designed through a collaboration between GM and NASA - and also known as Robo-Glove or K-Glove - the device is based on grasping technology initially developed for the hands of the space-going Robonaut 2. Essentially a power-assisted work glove, Robo-Glove is designed to minimize repetitive stress injuries in both astronauts and autoworkers.

Robonaut 2, for those who don't know, is a humanoid robot that is currently helping out with tasks aboard the International Space Station. It has actuators in each of its fingers, along with pressure sensors that give it a simulated sense of touch.

Robo-Glove likewise has actuators in the upper sections of each finger, along with pressure sensors. When the sensors detect that an object is being grasped by the user, the actuators cause the glove's fingers' synthetic tendons to retract, pulling them into a gripping position and holding them there until further notice. In this way, the user doesn't have to strain to maintain their grip, thus protecting them from injury.

Top and bottom views of the Robo-Glove

The first prototype was completed last March, which a second version following three months later. Both versions weigh about two pounds (0.9 kg), include a small display for programming and diagnostics, and run off a belt-mounted lithium-ion battery pack designed for use with power tools. A third version is currently in the works, which should be lighter and less bulky.

Tests performed with the existing gloves have indicated that users could indeed hold their grip longer, and more comfortably. It is estimated that if a task ordinarily required a human worker to assert 15 to 20 pounds (6.8 to 9 kg) of gripping force, only five to ten pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kg) would be required if the Robo-Glove were being used.

More information is available in the video below.

Source: GM

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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9 Comments

Be careful when you scratch.

Slowburn
13th March, 2012 @ 06:24 pm PDT

The Apollo-era spacesuits were apparently pretty brutal on the astronauts' hands. This seems like a big step forward.

Jon A.
14th March, 2012 @ 08:53 am PDT

Snark aside it sounds like a good addition to the rest of a power exoskeleton.

Slowburn
14th March, 2012 @ 12:07 pm PDT

Now we just need to reduce the load on the elbow and shoulder.... (reduce Repetitive strain rotator cuff injuries....)

This is a start.

Ultimately we really need an upper skeleton assist.... to remove the load off the back...)

But then why? Why not have a servo operated robot to actually do all of the work as directed by the human operator... Then we can just dump the human when the robot has learned the station.... (as repetitive work is often repetitive task driven, and robots are great at that...)

The human is only needed to direct the robot for "one-off" work, not truly repetitive jobs....

MD
15th March, 2012 @ 12:25 am PDT

Like the Nintendo Power Glove there's no left hand version.

Gregg Eshelman
15th March, 2012 @ 03:03 am PDT

re; Gregg Eshelman

How long do you thing that will take to fix once they are ready for production? 2 minutes to mirror image the design.

Slowburn
15th March, 2012 @ 04:56 am PDT

This is technology that's already patented and on the market by bioservo technologies www.bioservo.com.

Patrick Hatch Alm
15th March, 2012 @ 06:13 am PDT

Impressive....not really. I drew up the same basic design configuration last year (actuators tied to fingers, placement of components the same, ect...), still have the drawings to prove it and even made a simple prototype (since been dismantled). I would expect more from NASA and GM than what a college student could do. My downfall is not having the available resources to produce a full prototype, like I said NASA could do better, they have more than a few hundred dollars to work with. Never heard of bioservo; but will check them out cause now I will continue my development on this project.

Meckman
21st March, 2012 @ 11:21 am PDT

they could have given larger motors for a super-human grip. this could be somewhat dangerous though, mainly to the user.

KoalaStorm
16th November, 2012 @ 07:02 pm PST
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