DETROIT – Robotic glove technology developed out of a partnership between General Motors and NASA for use on the International Space Station is finding new life on Earth in health care, manufacturing and other industrial applications though a licensing agreement between GM and Bioservo Technologies AB, a Swedish medical technology company.
Working with GM, Bioservo will combine technology from its SEM GloveTM (Soft Extra Muscle) technology with the RoboGlove, a force-multiplying battery-powered wearable developed by GM and NASA during a nine-year collaboration that included the launch of the humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 (R2) into space in 2011.
The RoboGlove uses leading-edge sensors, actuators and tendons that are comparable to the nerves, muscles and tendons in a human hand. One design requirement for R2 was to operate tools designed for humans, and developers achieved unprecedented hand dexterity. That technology was applied to the RoboGlove.
Bioservo will initially develop a new grasp assist device for industrial use that could increase human operator efficiency while reducing fatigue in hand muscles. Research shows fatigue can occur within a few minutes of 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 Tomas Ward, CEO of Bioservo Technologies.
Ward described the technology combination as a major step toward introducing soft exoskeleton technology globally.
GM intends to be the first U.S. manufacturing customer for the refined robotic glove and will test it in some of its plants. Bioservo will make and sell the new glove for a variety of uses including medical rehabilitation and any place additional gripping strength is needed.
“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.
GM briefly tested RoboGlove in a preproduction plant before looking for a partner to help refine it to fit different size hands and address other issues.
About General Motors
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.
About Bioservo Technologies
Bioservo Technologies AB is a leader in soft exoskeleton technology and combines medical know-how of people’s needs with modern robotics technology to create innovative, strength-enhancing products. The award-winning SEM GloveTM is used as an occupational back to work aid, in healthcare and in the home by people with impaired muscular strength or in need of additional strength and endurance. The patented SEM™ (Soft Extra Muscles) technology is being put to use in innovative products in a number of international projects, including the HandinMind project for more effective stroke rehabilitation and IronHand project for Activities for Daily Living (ADL). The unique technology has its origin from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and the Swedish Karolinska University Hospital. The HandinMind and IronHand projects have financial contribution by the European Commission.
Bioservo Technologies AB has its head office and production facilities in Stockholm, Sweden. More information on the company can be found at http://www.bioservo.com/en