A Step Closer to Industrial Iron Man

Even without Infinity Stones or repulsor beams, GM is ready to transition RoboGlove from space to the plant floor.

Efficiency has always been a fundamental driver of manufacturing strategy. Optimizing output and constantly improving processes continue to be key in improving operational efficiency and profitability. And sometimes the desire to be more efficient just leads to something really cool … like the RoboGlove.

It doesn’t come with Infinity Stones or the ability to fire repulsor beams … yet, but RoboGlove, which was developed by the Swedish company Bioservo in conjunction with GM and NASA, saw initial action on the International Space Station. Now, GM wants to transition it from space to manufacturing facilities.

The battery-powered RoboGlove uses sensors and actuators that are comparable to nerves, muscles and tendons in boosting the wearer’s grip. So fatigue becomes less of an issue for tasks that might be repetitive and involve the use of heavier tools.

What makes Bioservo’s work different from other robotic supplements is a commitment to keeping the device lightweight (about 1-1/2 pounds) and flexible at the joints. Also, being based on Bioservo’s Soft Extra Muscle developments, RoboGlove is intended to be worn more like clothing, as opposed to a prosthetic. So it works equally well in providing healthy people with greater power and endurance, as in boosting the strength of those who might need a little extra help.

Additionally, RoboGlove’s “intention detection” logic only activates support if the wearer initiates a movement that changes pressure levels in sensors located in the fingertips.

This translates to a glove that’s strong enough to pound a hammer, but tactile enough to type on a mobile device.

Although RoboGlove is still technically in development, GM has tested it in a pre-production plant and will continue to work with Bioservo, hopefully only for purposes of good.

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