NASA’s Wearable Robotics Laboratory, in collaboration with Rice University, has used the technologies developed for the exoskeleton and the Space Suit Roboglove to help with rehabilitation and augmentation of one of the most complex human joints … the shoulder. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate supported the development of X1 and the Robo-glove through its Game Changing Development Program (GCD). GCD advances innovative technologies that have the potential to revolutionize future space missions as well as improve life on Earth.
The Soft Wearable Upper Extremity Garment, or “Armstrong,” is worn on the upper body and can activate the shoulder and elbow joints using a Bowden cable transmission system. This system uses actuators on the torso to pull on synthetic tendons that cross the shoulder and elbow joints to create the desired movements. Integrating this technology could provide a means to augment astronauts during planetary EVAs, easing difficult manual lifting and manipulation tasks.