Dawn of the Ergonaut: GM and NASA Develop Robotic Gloves

Weighing only two pounds, the K-glove has actuators embedded into the upper portion of the help humans avoid strain injury and fatigue.

photobank.kiev.ua/Shutterstock

General Motors and NASA have been collaborating to develop a robotic glove to reduce the risk of repetitive strain in automotive workers and astronauts. The device, known as the K-glove, had its origins in another partnership between the two organizations, the Robonaut 2 project which we have covered previously on Medgadget.

During the Robonaut 2 project, the engineering team achieved a significant degree of dexterity and grasping functionality in the robot's hand using state of the art sensors and actuators. The K-glove is an adaption of these technologies to augment human grasping so that fatigue and repetitive strain injury arising from prolonged use of power tools may be avoided.

From the press release:

Inspired by the finger actuation system of R2, actuators are embedded into the upper portion of the glove to provide grasping support to human fingers. The pressure sensors, similar to the sensors that give R2 its sense of touch are incorporated into the fingertips of the glove to detect when the user is grasping a tool. When the user grasps the tool, the synthetic tendons automatically retract, pulling the fingers into a gripping position and holding them there until the sensor is released.

The video below provides a good overview of the current K-Glove prototype. Obviously, in order to reduce fatigue and strain, it is essential that the K-glove weighs as little as possible. The current prototypes weigh about two pounds, however a third-generation prototype is currently being developed which will reduce the size and weight of the overall system.


This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

medGadget is written by a group of MDs and biomedical engineers.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Health

Just In