Robot hand is so humanlike, it’s almost creepy

This robot hand closely follows the structure of a human hand. (Credit: Z. Xu and E. Todorov / UW)

You’ve got to hand it to the roboticists at the University of Washington: They’ve built a robotic hand modeled so closely on human anatomy, it’s almost scary.

The hand uses plastic components that are modeled to mimic human bones, with crocheted ligaments, stringy tendons and rubber skin layered on top. Servo motors pull cables to copy the movement of muscles in a real hand.

When you hook up the contraption to sensors placed strategically around a human controller’s arm and hand, the robot appendage can hold a pen, grip a softball or balance a plate with near-human dexterity. IEEE Spectrum’s Evan Ackerman says it’s the “most detailed and kinematically accurate biomimetic anthropomorphic robotic hand that we’ve ever seen.”

Here’s the almost scary part …

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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