Human-like dexterous hands for robots


A UK SME has developed hands for robots that offer the same levels of dexterity and capability as the human hand. This can be deployed as the platform for a tele-operation system, or as the hardware to allow robots to perform dexterous manipulation autonomously. Development partners and market opportunities are sought.


The human-like robot hand uses 129 sensors to provide both force sensing and joint position sensing. The Hand is compact and can be easily integrated into a larger robotic system, while its 20 degrees of freedom (DoF) provide supreme flexibility and dexterity in almost any application area. The Hand can be controlled remotely using virtual reality tools, providing tele-operation with similar qualities to direct human intervention. The development team boasts a wealth of experience in developing robotic manipulators that spans 15 years.

Data (on force sensing, tactile sensing, temperature, and motor current and voltage) are provided to the user via a high bandwidth EtherCAT interface. Optional features include an Air Muscle actuated version; choice of left- or right-handed versions; and a BioTactile Sensor for highly detailed sensing applications.

Innovations and advantages of the offer

Key innovations:

  • Integration of joint position sensing, force sensing, actuation, and control of the 20 DoF robot hand into a compact, mountable package
  • The hand is fully integrated with standard robot architecture (ROS)
  • Demonstration of the Hand as an end effector for tele-operation
  • Demonstration of the Hand as a manipulator for autonomous robotics

Further Information

Simulation: A virtual model of the Hand can be used to explore its capabilities and is available to download via:

Open Platform: The user is able to modify both the control of the hand (e.g. position control algorithms) and the firmware within the Hand itself.


Current domains:

  • Used extensively in robotics research of automation and tele-operation

Potential domains:

  • Nuclear decommissioning
  • Mining
  • Bomb disposal
  • Natural disaster rescues
  • Dexterous application in hazardous/remote environments

Description of Space Heritage

Previous generations of Shadow hardware were built using pneumatic soft actuation, which limited the applicability. ESA development funding unlocked the development of an improved “Smart Motor” hand capable of use solely from an electric supply.

Automation & Robotics
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Could this technology benefit your business? Please contact Helen Rogerson STFC Innovations (UK)
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