By Edward Cardenas
SOUTHFIELD (CBS Detroit) – Technology utilized by a robot designed by General Motors and NASA, and currently on the International Space Station, may have multiple applications for humans here on Earth.
Researchers are finding applications for Robonaut’s robotic technology to free up human crew time on the space station and assist those on Earth by conducting medical procedures, assisting with limb movement and help those who have restricted hand movement.
While the Robonaut, which has been in space since 2011, was initially intended to “help astronauts with dull, dangerous, or dirty tasks,” according to Ron Diftler, Ph.D., Robonaut project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, other uses for its technology are being considered.
According to the space agency, the possible uses which are being considered include:
- An exoskeleton – which is worn over the legs with a harness over the back and around the shoulders, has motorized joints at the hips and the knees – can help astronauts remain healthy in space and could help restore limb motion for those affected by paraplegia or stroke,
- A RoboGlove, which is a glove with flexible tendons, a tendon drive system, and sensors that measure the grasping force applied by the wearer that could be used for spacewalks or help those who have lost, or have restricted, use of their hands due to injury or stroke. It also could be used by those who have repetitive tasks at work,
- Telemedicine, where physicians are can guide the Robonaut to conduct medical procedures such as inserting a needle into a vein.