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GM and NASA team up for designing robotic gloves for human hand

The Robonaut technology: soon in your establishment or dealer in the space station

General Motors and NASA are a joint project which aims to design a glove that can used robotized automotive technicians and astronauts to help them perform their tasks efficiently and reducing the risk of repeated injury.

The gripping device robotized (Human Grasp Assist), also known as K-glove or Robo-Glove is a glove from the Robonaut 2 project (R2) of GM and NASA. R2 is the first "humanoid robot" launched into space in 2011, and is now a permanent resident of the International Space Station.

When engineers, researchers and scientists from NASA and GM have debuted their work in the R2 project in 2007, one of the requirements was to create a robot capable of handling tools designed for humans to astronauts and ground workers. The team has managed to give the R2 a degree of unprecedented dexterity thanks to sensors and actuators as well as advanced synthetic tendons similar to nerves, muscles and tendons of the human hand.

Research has demonstrated that to enter a long tool causing fatigue of hand muscles in minutes. The preliminary tests Robo-Glove indicate that the wearer of the glove can take a tool for a longer period and in comfort.

"When the Robo-Glove is completed, it will reduce the force required a auto worker to operate a tool for a long time or during repetitive work, has said Dana Komin, director of manufacturing engineering GM, Strategy and execution of strategy automation. Thus, we think reduce the risk of injury CAUSED by repetitive work. "

For example, assuming an astronaut working outside the space station in its pressurized spacesuit or an operator on an assembly line must use a force of 6 to 10 kg to maintain function in a tool at a given spot . With robotized glove, it will only have to apply a force of two to four kilograms.

"This concept is a great opportunity for my team responsible spacesuits to explore new avenues in addition to us discover new possibilities in matter extravehicular work," says Trish has Petete, Divisional Head, Division of thermal systems and of crew, Johnson Space Center of NASA.

From the system touch activation of R2, actuators have been integrated in the upper part of the glove to allow human fingers to grasp objects. Pressure sensors, similar to those that give R2 its sense of touch, have been integrated in the fingertips of the glove to detect the entry of a tool. When the user grabs the tool, the synthetic tendons are retracted automatically, thereby pushing fingers in position for clamping and holding them in position until the sensor is released.

GM and NASA have submitted 46 patents for R2, 21 for hand and four for the Robo-Glove glove.

The first prototype of the glove was realized in March 2011, and a second generation three months later. The fabric of the glove was designed by Oceaneering Space Systems, the same company who developed skin R2.

The current prototypes weigh about one kilogram and integrate electronic controls, actuators and has a display for programming and diagnostics. A single lithium-ion FIXED mechanical tool has a wrist strap is used to power the system. A prototype of the third generation, which will be endowed think back components aimed at reducing the size and weight of the system is under development.

"We are trying tirelessly to find ways to increase the safety and productivity in the workshops," said Dana Komin says. Our goal is to offer this technology in one day workshops. "

NASA and GM are longstanding partners and collaboration began in the 1960s with the development of navigation systems for the Apollo missions. GM has also played an important role in the design of the Lunar Rover Vehicle, the first vehicle used on the moon.

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