The Robo-Glove's real ingenuity lies in its use of electronics to learn the wearer's intentions. Force-sensitive resistors in the fingertips work with a microprocessor, software, and a set of motor controllers to endow the system with closed-loop control. "When you come in contact with something and squeeze, the reaction is immediate," Linn said. "The microprocessor reads the sensors, understands the intent of the user, and tells the motors to actuate. The motors cinch everything up and give you the extra force you need."
The glove is an offshoot of Robonaut 2 (R2), a collaborative GM-NASA project that provided a dexterous working robot for the International Space Station. Unlike R2, GM sees the Robo-Glove as a product that can be commercialized.
Linn said the device could have applications in the robotics market, particularly in the growing area that includes humanoid robots and exoskeletons. Clothing companies could also incorporate the technology into work gloves. GM is still studying the prototype to learn which applications would make the most sense.
Early research by the automaker has shown that auto workers wearing a Robo-Glove can grip a tool longer and more comfortably. The company says the glove could reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.
"We don't know yet what the best applications will be," Linn said. "Our approach is to try it out on a bunch of tasks and let the operators, who are the real experts, tell us whether it helps or not."
As a FORMER GM stockholder and long-time member of a "GM FAMILY" I feel I'm qualified to state that if the people at GM were focused on MAKING AUTOMOBILES may be I wouldn't have to use their stock certificates for wallpapering my bathroom. I the morons would concentrate on styling and car engineering they would't have time for gloves, etc.
Thanks, Chuck that makes sense. bdcst, I often have the same problem opening jars, and keep three different jar-opening tools in my kitchen utensil drawer. One of them usually works. But I agree, this glove would make a great alternative for several other tasks that involve gripping for long periods of time.
You're right on the money, bdcst. I think these are the kinds of apps that GM is thinking of. There must be a lot of potential applications in which this technology could be used to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Ann: I don't think GM wanted to put it into shoes. They just happend to drop the name of a shoe/clothing company and suggested that there was an application there. I don't know how that company could possibly use it, but it does make sense that a company that makes work clothing could incorporate it into gloves.
Yes, Sensor pro, it is good to see GM innovating in a non-auto field. Decades ago, that was more the norm, where companies would go far afield with their innovations with some very interesting results. 3M, Bell Labs, many others.
This device has the potential to become a mass production, mass appeal comodity item! No need to limit it to the assembly line or for relief from medical conditions. It would be handy for most everyone on a daily basis, especially those of us who are aging. And isn't that ultimately all of us?
I'm at the point where opening vacuum sealed jar lids becomes a brute force challenge, where soft tissue does not respond as well to stress or heal as rapidly from an insult.
Even for low force tasks such as gripping the tripod handle of a film/video camera for an hour or more of continuous filming the glove would help eliminate finger cramps! I assume, with some sort of locking cam or gear action, the glove would not have to consume a lot of battery power to hold its grip, only to change it.
This device would appear to be, in some ways, superior to the exoskeleton devices the Department of Defence is testing for soldiers needing to carry heavy supplies to the battlefield. It would certainly help them hold a weapon or a joy stick for prolonged periods of time.
Chuck, I get defense applications, but clothing? And shoes? Anyway, the medical/health apps look pretty compelling. As Nancy mentions, carpal tunnel/tendonitis/repetitive stress sufferers could also benefit, on top of people who have lost even more functioning.
This is a very exciting development – I know so many people who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and this looks like a great preventative measure and even a way for those who have a repetitive stress injury to be able to continue to work. I will be looking forward to what the operators have to say about it! I wonder how cost effective it will be to implement because I think the possibilities are so huge...very cool!
Ann: GM is very open to ideas for commercialization. While I was talking with them, they mentioned possible uses in defense applications and in clothing lines. They also mentioned a prominent shoe manufacturer in our discussions, but didn't indicate how that company might use it.
Last night’s 2015 State of the Union Address was heavy on jobs and the economy and notably light on manufacturing. President Obama did, however, make brief references to several issues central to engineers.
Carnegie Mellon University's modular snake robot can be reconfigured to meet users' needs. Not only will this modular system enable completely new robot designs, say its inventors, it will also help speed up the pace of development and enable more flexible traditional industrial robots.
US manufacturing output rose 0.3% in December, but warm weather that blanketed the entire country reduced heating demand, significantly dragging down utilities output and the nation’s overall industrial production for the month. The 0.1% decline in December was the first contraction in the nation’s total industrial output since August, the Federal Reserve announced Friday.
A lightweight metals research consortium formed last year as part of President Barack Obama’s national manufacturing innovation initiatives will open its research facility in Detroit today, marking the official start of a federally supported effort to commercialize new, advanced manufacturing technology in the automotive, military, and aerospace industries.
US orders of metalworking capital machinery cooled significantly in the two months following the big International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, according to the latest available data tracked by that show’s organizer. But the nation’s manufacturing sector is predicted to grow robustly again this year and buoy industrial machinery investment, which will bode well for the machine design industry.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.