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GM Unveils New Space-Tested RoboGlove

Company-produced robotic gloves for NASA coming to Earth.

by on Jul.06, 2016

Marty Linn, General Motors manager of advanced technology and principal engineer for robotics, shakes hands with Robonaut 2 wearing the RoboGlove.

Automakers often talk about the real-world benefits of their racing programs; however, General Motors’ latest innovation requires a little more speed than the race track to get to its testing environment: outer space.

Working with a company named Bioservo Technologies AB, GM developed a robotic glove used by NASA on the International Space Station. Called the Soft Extra Muscle (SEM) Glove, it’s a glove that the user wears to help maintain a steady grip. Nicknamed “RoboGlove,” it’s a nine-year endeavor is now finding its way to Earth.

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RoboGlove uses a collection of sensors, actuators and tendons that are comparable to human nerves, muscles and tendons to mimic the moves and utility of a human hand. The technology was used on NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2) that was sent to space in 2011. As part of that mission, R2 needed to be able to operate tools designed for humans, and developers achieved unprecedented hand dexterity with the technology. (more…)

Nissan, NASA Partnering to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Technology

Pairing could produce vehicles for Earth and space.

by on Jan.09, 2015

The all-electric Nissan Leaf fitted with autonomous drive equipment allowed to park at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

The names of vehicles used by NASA in its research efforts roll off the tongue: Columbia, Discovery, Endeavour…Leaf? Maybe not, but the space agency and Nissan Motor Co. are partnering up to develop autonomous vehicle systems that could have applications on the ground and in space.

“The work of NASA and Nissan – with one directed to space and the other directed to earth, is connected by similar challenges,” said Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co. “The partnership will accelerate Nissan’s development of safe, secure and reliable autonomous drive technology that we will progressively introduce to consumers beginning in 2016 up to 2020.”

The Last Word!

The five-year partnership will team researchers from Nissan’s U.S. Silicon Valley Research Center and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California who will test a fleet of zero-emission vehicles used to transport a variety of materials, goods, payloads and people. The tests are similar to the way NASA currently operates its planetary rovers remotely from a mission control center. (more…)

GM’s Robonaut 2 Heads Into Space

Life-like robot will become new resident of space station.

by on Apr.14, 2010

The new Robonaut 2 prototype is able to curl a 20 pound weight, more than most humanoid designs.

He’s not quite C3PO, nor the emotional fireplug that Star Wars fans knew as R2D2, but Robonaut 2 will soon be taking his place in space as the latest resident on the international space station.

Jointly developed by NASA and General Motors, the 300-pound R2, as he’s become known to developers, is designed to see if a life-like robot can work alongside human counterparts in a variety of duties off planet Earth. (See NASA and GM Working on Robotic Technology)

R2 will actually be the second robot on the space station, though the original, Canadian-designed Dextre, is anything but anthropomorphic.  It consists of two long, spider-like arms that can perform some of the exterior construction and repair work that would normally require a space walk by human astronauts.

“The use of R2 on the space station is just the beginning of a quickening pace between human and robotic exploration of space,” said John Olson, director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Integration Office. “The partnership of humans and robots will be critical to opening up the solar system and will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today.”

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While R2 might look like an astronaut suited up for a space walk, GM developers stress that he not only looks human but is designed to work like one, with arms and hands that can perform the same function as living, breathing space station dwellers.