Shadow Robot Company robot hand



Originally touted as a solution for the disabled, it’s a little wearying to see the Shadow Robot Hand – a robot hand so dextrous it can pick up small coins or, as shown here, hold a tomato – being flogged for marketing and PR uses. It uses compressed air in the ‘muscles’, of which it has 36, which means each muscle can weigh as little as 10g and be used in very delicate situations. The air reservoir is refilled by a foot pump to the very high-tech named ‘fizzy drinks container’ bottle. Uses for the Hand are nominally unlimited, since the program code is open under GPL; surely there are more exciting things for it to be doing than convincing you to buy more stuff? [GT]

Shadow Robot Hand

Gabrielle Taylor
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  • Hi,

    The air supply for the Hand is provided by any standard electronic Air-Compressor that can deliver at least 3.5 bar and has a minimum flow rate of 24/min.

    The foot pump on the other hand can be used for the starter kit, a basic kit we sell to let people find out how our muscles work, when using fizzy drinks bottles as reservoirs.

    The new Hand has 40 muscles, the old 38.


    Jake Goldsmith
    Robotics Engineer
    The Shadow Robot Company

  • Dear Gabrielle,

    I understand that looking at our website you get the idea that we are trying the sell the Hand for Pr uses only. I would like to point out that this is not the case. At the moment we are exploring different markets such as

    Telepresence operations:
    By implementing the system together with a data glove it can be used for all kinds of telepresence operations. The system can replace human beings where it is too dangerous for them to operate. For example in a nuclear environment, in contact with harmful chemicals or even bomb disposal. The Shadow Dexterous Hand can also allow specialists to be present, whenever needed, anywhere across the world. For example when a machine is in need of repair and is inaccessible, medical examination or education and training.

    Onee has to be very careful with people in physiotherapy when doing exercises. The right pressure is required, the movements have to be smooth and making mistakes is out of the question. In order for an electronic or robotic device to help the therapist, it needs the same kind of care. The muscle technology makes the hand soft, compliant and human friendly.

    Ergonomic Research:
    When doing ergonomic research, one is often in need of a model of a human hand. The Shadow Dexterous Hand is an almost perfect reproduction. It can be used to test all kinds of objects that are designed for human hands: gloves, tools, pens, handles, etc. We also see a use for the Hand in the testing of all kinds of human manipulation, like for example the accessibility of objects.

    All kinds of other research:
    Robotics, artificial intelligence, human machine interaction, neurological research,…

    The ultimate dream off course is still not only to have our Hand as a solution for disabled but as a general help to humans. Unfortunately the current market is not ready for that … yet.

    Kind Regards,
    Marie De Ryck
    Marketing Executive
    The Shadow Robot Company

  • Since Hand C5 its now 40 muscles.

    Also each limb now comes with optional GPS locator so that each limb can navigate itself back to the nearest Shadow re-assembly points.

    Hopefully robot 2rd party re-assembly points will be within a 10 mile range throughout the planet as this will allow us to significantly drop the price of each unit. The current spec requires that each limb is able to navigate itself through any terrain and ocean.

    If you checkout google earth you can see the progress of HandC3 5, which currently is midway at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, heading for the Panama canal.

    It should be noted that the limb in question (Yes its just a right hand/arm) decided to make for Panama itself, saving it crawling across the US.

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