2013 R&D 100 Winner
Robo-GlovesHumans are designed to grasp well; but repetitive, high-force gripping can result in long-term discomfort or injury. For example, an assembly operator in a factory might need to use 15 to 20 lbs of force to hold a tool for a task. NASA’s Johnson Space Center, General Motors and Oceaneering Space Systems have partnered to design a solution: the Robo-Glove.

This human grasp-assist device augments the grip of a human hand using linear actuators and high-strength polymer tendons. Pressure sensors built into the fingertips of the glove detect when the user is grasping a tool or object. The synthetic tendons automatically retract, pulling the fingers into a gripping position and holding them there until the sensor is released. Force-based contact sensors positioned at the distal end of each finger offer control for the user. Pressure on the sensors triggers the execution of an algorithm by a microcontroller that determines the optimal amount of augmenting tensile force.

Robotic glove

NASA Johnson Space Center
General Motors
Oceaneering Space Systems

Development Team

NASA Johnson Space Center's Robo-Glove development team. Back row (l-r): Emily McBryan, Myron Diftler, Kody Ensley, Evan Laske. Front row (l-r): Lyndon Bridgwater, Jason Lee.


General Motor's Robo-Glove development team. Back row (l-r): Alex Millerman, Chris Ihrke, Don Davis, Steve Zakula, Gurdayal Singh Koonjul, Jon Chen. Front row (l-r): Dana Komin, Marty Linn.


The Robo-Glove Development Team
Ron Diftler, Principal Developer, NASA Johnson Space Center
Marty Linn, Principal Developer, General Motors
Bryan Bergelin, General Motors
Heather Bibby, Oceaneering Space System
Lyndon Bridgewater, NASA Johnson Space Center
Don Davis, General Motors
Kody Ensley, NASA Johnson Space Center
Chris Ihrke, General Motors
Evan Laske, NASA Johnson Space Center
Emily McBryan, NASA Johnson Space Center
Judy Schroeder, Oceaneering Space Systems
James Stein, Oceaneering Space Systems