What Is a Robot Hand?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
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  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2019
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A robot hand is a mechanical construction that appears and moves in a way similar or identical to a human hand, which can be designed in a number of different ways. Some of these hands are created merely to test out robotic equipment and theories for creating machines that can move and function in ways similar to human movements. Other robot hands, however, are created in an effort to develop prostheses for people who have lost a hand. This type of robot hand is developed to allow a person to regain motion and functionality from a prosthetic replacement, often referred to as a cybernetic limb.

Though there are a number of different ways in which such hands can be created, a robot hand is typically a mechanical construction with different types of controls. A variety of substances and materials can be used to make such a hand, though they often include metallic pieces to mimic the structures of the bones of a human hand and wires or cables that act as tendons to move the other parts. Such a robot hand can be developed to function in a number of different ways, either through computer or human control.


A robot hand under computer control is typically developed as a way to continue improving upon what types of movement and dexterity are possible through robotics. Such a hand is usually made to mimic, though not necessarily resemble, a human hand in construction and movement. This robot hand might be developed as part of a larger robotic construction, such as a full body robot, or simply as a standalone feature that can be controlled through a computer. The use of this type of hand could allow for more precise efforts at bomb removal or disarmament, without risking human life, or for increased productivity in robotic assembly.

There are also some types of robot hand that are developed for use in assisting humans, often as a prosthetic replacement for a lost limb. This type of hand has been created to replace older forms of prosthesis, which may provide very limited functionality or merely act as an aesthetic replacement. A fully functional robot hand would allow a person who has lost a hand to regain much of the functionality and dexterity that he or she had prior to the loss of the limb. This type of hand usually connects to nerve endings that remain at the site where the limb was lost, and allow a person to control the robotic or cybernetic hand through thoughts in much the same way anyone else moves his or her hands.


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