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GM and NASA’s “Power” Glove Licensed to Swedish Medtech Company Bioservo

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Power Glove, or RoboGlove, created by GM and NASA

Several years ago, General Motors teamed up with NASA to create what they refer to as a “Power Glove.” And no, we’re not talking about a Nintendo Power Glove—this technology is slightly more sophisticated than the video game controller that Jackey Vinson famously praised as “so bad.”

The GM-NASA Power Glove, or RoboGlove, is a force-multiplying, battery-powered wearable that uses sensors, actuators, and tendons that are comparable to the actual nerves, muscles, and tendons in a human hand. The device was developed during a nine-year collaboration between the automaker and space agency, which included the creation of Robonaut 2 (R2), a humanoid robot launched into space in 2011.

Now the RoboGlove is being licensed to the Swedish medical technology company Bioservo Technologies AB, which is looking to make a new industrial-use grasp assist device that can increase human operator efficiency and reduce the kind of hand muscle fatigue that comes from continuously gripping a tool.

“Combining the best of three worlds – space technology from NASA, engineering from GM and medtech from Bioservo – in a new industrial glove could lead to industrial scale use of the technology,” said Bioservo CEO Tomas Ward.

Ward also touted the combination of technologies as an important step towards the eventual global introduction of soft exoskeleton technology. Bioservo intends to sell the new glove for a variety of different uses, including medical rehabilitation and “any place additional gripping strength is needed.”

GM says it will test the refined robotic glove in some of its plants, and plans to be the product’s first US manufacturing customer.

“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, GM Global Manufacturing Engineering VP.