Robotic exoskeleton glove gives operators super gripping strength

Swedish-based Bioservo is working with GM to further develop the RoboGlove, a force-multiplying battery-powered wearable.

0 July 11, 2016

GM NASA RoboGlove exoskeletonHave you ever wished you had super-sonic gripping strength? Wearable technology that enhances gripping strength has been around for years. However, General Motors is partnering with Swedish-based medtech company Bioservo Technologies to further develop a robotic exoskeleton glove for use in industrial applications.

The work builds on an existing partnership between GM and NASA. During the nine-year collaboration, the companies developed the RoboGlove, a force-multiplying battery-powered wearable exoskeleton that offered unprecedented hand dexterity for the launch of the humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 (R2) into space in 2011.

Today, the technology is being further developed for applications in health care, manufacturing and other industrial applications.

Currently, the RoboGlove uses sensors, actuators and tendons that are comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand. But research shows that muscle fatigue is huge problem that can occur only minutes of continuous gripping.

Working with GM, Bioservo brings its SEM Glove (Soft Extra Muscle) technology to the RoboGlove for increased dexterity. The medtech company will develop a new grip assist device for industrial use that decreases muscle fatigue in the operator’s hand.

The partnership was developed after GM briefly tested RoboGlove in a pre-production plant. The automaker realized that it needed a partner to refine the glove to fit different size hands and address other design issues.

This collaboration combines the space technology of NASA, engineering from GM and medtech from Bioservo to help bring the exoskeleton glove technology to industrial scale applications.

GM intends to be the first U.S. manufacturing customer for the refined robotic glove and will test it in some of its plants. Bioservo will make and sell the new glove for a variety of uses including medical rehabilitation and any place additional gripping strength is needed.

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