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GM, NASA Create Robotic Gloves to Make Humans Stronger

As it turns out, 33 years after the theatrical release of Alien, there is a device that fits like a glove, literally, and uses robotics to help workers push harder (or less, in this case) and potentially avoid work-related hand injuries. GM and NASA said they have developed the "K-glove" or "Robo-Glove", which was created over the past five years to be used at the International Space Station as well as inside GM's manufacturing plants.

“When fully developed, the Robo-Glove has the potential to reduce the amount of force that an auto worker would need to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions,” said Dana Komin, GM’s manufacturing engineering director, Global Automation Strategy and Execution. “In so doing, it is expected to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injury.” For example, the 5-20 pounds of force to hold a tool during an operation would be reduced to "only 5-to-10 pounds of force", GM said. So far, the Robo Glove exists as a prototype with 46 patent applications pending.

While the glove does not look very special from the outside, it features actuators that are designed to support human fingers. There are pressure sensors built into the fingertips of the glove to detect when a worker is holding a tool. Synthetics tendons automatically contract when a tool is held and support the hand and fingers in a "gripping position" until the sensor detects that the tool is going to be released.