GM/NASA Robo-Glove Is As Awesome As It Sounds

By March 15, 2012

NASA and GM have partnered to create a robo-glove that will give its wearer super grip and strength.

The glove has been more formally titled The Human Grasp Assistant, though internally its called both the K-glove and robo-glove. The development of the glove came about after NASA launched their first humanoid-robot into space, named Robonaut 2, which was required to have the capability of using human tools. The complex hand functionality of the robot lead to the development of NASA’s new roboglove technology.

The glove’s main aim is to help both astronauts and auto engineers, and will ideally prevent stress-related injuries caused by repeated motions of the hand. A GM press release this week highlighted how quickly hand fatigue can become a problem for workers.  “Research shows that continuously gripping a tool can cause fatigue in hand muscles within a few minutes. Initial testing of the Robo-Glove indicates the wearer can hold a grip longer and more comfortably.”

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The glove works by providing additional grip force to its wearer up to ten pounds. The force comes from actuators and sensors within the fingers of the glove, similar to those of the R2 robot. These actuators create a gripping gesture with the glove, allowing it to hold onto any object. The sensors work to allow the glove’s tendons to begin and retract the gripping motion, depending on what the user’s fingertips are doing inside the glove.

The first generation glove was produced by Oceaneering Space Systems back in 2011, and a smaller, third generation model is now nearing completion. The current, second generation glove itself only weighs about two lbs, and is powered by a standard lithium ion power tool battery that can be worn on a belt.

Anyone worried about the glove’s potential to be used as a bone-snapping killing machine should be happy to hear that the glove is safe for human interaction. At the conclusion of the above video, Marty Linn, GM’s Principal Engineer of Robotics, fearlessly shakes hands with a colleague wearing glove. So either Linn’s hand is completely fine or he’s got one hell of a poker face.

Corey Cummings

Corey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he received degrees in English and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Chicago and enjoys alternately obsessing over video games that aren't out yet and crazy gadgets he can't afford.