GM and NASA have developed a robotic glove technology for use on the International Space Station.

The firms also intend to use this technology in health care, manufacturing and other industrial applications.

Under the deal, the firms will combine Bioservo’s Soft Extra Muscle (SEM) Glove technology with GM and NASA developed RoboGlove.

RoboGlove is a force-multiplying battery-powered wearable developed during a nine-year collaboration, which included the launch of the humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 (R2) into space in 2011.

The R2’s sensors, actuators and tendons are compared with nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand, and one design requirement for it was to operate tools designed for humans.

Initially, Bioservo will develop a new grasp assist device for industrial use, which is expected to increase human operator efficiency while reducing fatigue in hand muscles.

The company will make and sell the new glove for different uses, including medical rehabilitation and any place additional gripping strength is needed.

Bioservo Technologies CEO Tomas Ward said: "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."

GM global manufacturing engineering vice president Kurt Wiese said: "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."

Image: GM and NASA’s RoboGlove. Photo: courtesy of General Motors.