In the United States, there are approximately 7.8 million production workers in the construction industry. And pretty soon, some of those workers could be using robotic extremities to perform tasks not suitable for the human hand.
According to CBS Detroit, General Motors plans on using robotic glove technology to help factory workers manufacture automobiles.
The same robot technology is used on the International Space Station and is now being developed for production workers to help grip their tools, reduce injury, and limit fatigue.
“They won’t have the muscular fatigue,” said Marty Linn, GM Robotics Engineer, “they won’t have the same sorts of problems and potentially avoiding injuries from having muscular fatigue.”
EandT reports that NASA first developed the RoboGlove to work with the Robonaut 2 humanoid robot, a space robot that used the technology to grip and maneuver objects.
The glove uses technological sensors, tendons, and actuators that act as if they are real nerves and muscles inside a human hand.
Roughly 5% of the entire global population — between the ages of 16 and 84 — suffer from weakening hands. Utilizing this technology will enable factory workers to preserve their hand strength over time and get even more physical tasks completed.
“The successor to RoboGlove can reduce the amount of force that a worker needs to exert when operating a tool,” said Kurt Wiese, vice president of GM Global Manufacturing Engineering. Wiese stated that the glove can help factory workers perform their tasks much longer without fatigue for an “extended time or with repetitive motions.”
The Swedish Medtech company, Bioservo Technologies, owns the licensing to RoboGlove.
According to MotorTrend, an overall spike in the auto industry could be an eventual result of this new technology.
“Combining the best of three worlds,” said Thomas Ward, CEO of Bioserve Technologies, “space technology from NASA, engineering from GM, and medtech from Biservo, in a new industrial glove could lead to industrial scale use of the technology.”