US – Originally developed by General Motors and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for use on the International Space Station, the glove will now be piloted at some of the OEM’s factories. Sweden-based company Bioserve Technologies will make and sell the gloves for a range of industries; GM will be the first US manufacturing customer.
Bioserve will combine its Soft Extra Muscles (SEM) Glove technology with the RoboGlove, a battery-powered application developed by GM and NASA during a nine-year collaboration which in 2011 saw the launch into space of a humanoid robot, Robonaut 2 (R2).
The RoboGlove features leading-edge sensors, actuators and connectors designed to mimic the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand. One design requirement for R2 was the ability to operate tools designed for people, leading to the development of ‘unprecedented hand dexterity’ and this has now been applied to the RoboGlove, says GM.
The vehicle-maker briefly tested RoboGlove in a preproduction plant before looking for a partner to refine the technology in various ways, including the accommodation of different hand sizes. “The successor to RoboGlove can reduce the amount of force that a worker needs to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions,” said Kurt Wiese, vice-president of GM Global Manufacturing Engineering.