Posts tagged “Robonaut

GM, NASA Jointly Developing Robotic Gloves for Human Use

In this article on GM’s media website, they tout a new robotic technology, developed using some of the same principals of Robonaut 2, “that auto workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries.”

While the GM article continues on about the many benefits to reducing the amount of force required during a spacewalk, they completely miss the boat on the use of this technology in space. While the article outlines how this glove can improve safety and productivity on the shop floor in an auto industry, this would not be the case on a spacewalk.

Since NASA entered into the spacewalking business in 1965, engineers have wrestled with the trade-off of increasing safety margins by bulking up the spacesuit, and providing the astronaut mobility and tactility while working. The glove is the most vulnerable part of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (or “E-M-U” NASA’s spacesuit since 1982), because it has to be to allow the astronaut the tactility and mobility to work productively and in a timely manner.

While GM has a great technology to improve the automotive industry, in this case it doesn’t correlate to improving a spacewalk.

In my opinion, combining this technology with integrated haptic vibro feedback and Halting State style air-writing accelerometer capability might be an interesting solution.

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Robonaut Shakes Hands

Today, Increment 30 Commander Dan Burbank shared the first-ever handshake in space between a human and a humanoid robot, known as Robonaut.

Today on ISS, Robonaut consists of a head, upper torso, arms, and hands and is only capable of performing activities inside the vehicle (known as “IV” to the spacewalk community). Future plans include outfitting Robonaut with a leg-type structure and giving it capabilities to work on the exterior of ISS.

Currently, astronauts doing a spacewalk spend a large amount of time with worksite setup and hardware transfer. With the help of Robonaut, a larger portion of the limited time an astronaut spends doing a spacewalk can be focused on the specific tasks at-hand.