NASA, GM work leads to tech that could help astronauts and assembly line workers
The pressure inside the gloves can be around 4 pounds per square inch, enough to occasionally knock out astronauts’ fingernails, said Ron Diftler, a former project manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“The person wearing the astronaut glove struggles with that as they try to maintain their grip,” he said. “What if we could use this robotic technology and increase the astronaut’s grasping ability so that the task is not so difficult?”
According to NASA, GM workers were working on glove prototypes in 2015, and the automaker was looking for a business partner to help refine the technology. He found that Bioservo was working on similar technology designed to help people with hand injuries.
Bioservo then licensed six patents from GM and NASA and began work on the Ironhand, with GM working on prototypes as they were built, according to the space agency. Companies like Airbus and General Electric were among others that tested the technology, NASA said.
Bioservo plans commercial deployment of the glove in the coming years, recently engaging with two companies to distribute the device to US manufacturers.
NASA was founded in 1958 with a directive from Congress to “disseminate its technology for the benefit of the public,” the agency says on its website. Diftler said the robotic glove is a prime example. “Not only can the glove help an able-bodied person, but there is a very good chance that someone who has limited abilities for one reason or another will be able to use the glove and bring themselves back to a more standard level of ability”, did he declare.
Here are some other technologies with automotive applications that NASA highlighted in its latest Spinoff report.