By on July 7, 2016

GM-NASA Space Robot ‘Power’ Glove Finds New Life on Earth

Not too long ago, engineers from General Motors and NASA stood around a glove, thinking, we can rebuilt this — better, stronger, more dexterous than before.

Well, they did, and now RoboGlove — a term that conjures up images of a vaguely 1980s dystopian future — will soon get its manufacturing debut at the end of select GM workers’ arms.

GM announced its plan to use RoboGloves at its assembly plants yesterday, which makes it the first U.S. manufacturing customer for the technology. Originally created through a partnership with NASA for use on the International Space Station, the robotic glove was presumably used for screwing things really hard in outer space.

GM-NASA Space Robot ‘Power’ Glove Finds New Life on Earth

Back on Earth, GM entered into a licensing agreement with Swedish medical technology company Bioservo Technologies AB, which plans to incorporate technology from its trademarked SEM (“Extra Soft Muscle”) Glove. The battery-powered robotic exoskeleton will be marketed to the medical and manufacturing sectors.

Each RoboGlove is filled with sensors and actuators, and functions through electronically controlled tendons and muscles. This allows the wearer’s hand to become many times more powerful than normal. Futuristic? Yes. But it’s 2016, and it’s about time were allowed ourselves to become partially robotic.

Bioservo plans to adopt a grasp assist device into the assembly that prevents hand fatigue in the wearer. This feature will be useful for workers who are required to grasp tools for extended periods of time.

The refined RoboGlove will be tested at some GM plants next year before going on the market. If the technology takes off, there’s a good chance we’ll see more advanced exoskeletons in industry in the future. If it makes the job easier, workers will likely embrace it, as long as there’s still a salaried human working inside it.

[Image: General Motors/NASA]

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