General Motors has teamed up with NASA to develop a new type of robotic gloves for human use. They say this Human Grasp Assist device can be used by both auto workers and astronauts to help them do the tasks more comfortably while reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries. The glove reduces the chance of fatigue in hand muscles caused by gripping tools for too long.
The Robo-Glove, as it’s internally known, is resulted from GM and NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2) project, which launched the first human-like robot into space in 2011. It utilizes leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand.
To put the effect of the glove in perspective, if you use 15-20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation, with the glove you only need five-to-10 pounds of force. The current prototypes weigh about two pounds and include the control electronics, actuators and a small display for programming and diagnostics. An off-the-shelf lithium-ion power-tool battery with a belt-clip is used to power the system. A third-generation prototype that will use repackaged components to reduce the size and weight of the system is nearing completion.
GM and NASA have said nothing yet about the cost of mass producing these gloves.
“The prototype glove offers my space suit team a promising opportunity to explore new ideas, and challenges our traditional thinking of what extravehicular activity hand dexterity could be,” said Trish Petete, division chief, Crew and Thermal Systems Division, NASA Johnson Space Center.