The Shadow Robot Company is now offering its Dexterous Hand for public sale. The joints are powered by the company’s Air Muscles, usually in pairs to provide a variable grip. The Air Muscle is a rubber tube encased in a “Chinese finger trap” style plastic webbing. When the muscle is inflated with compressed air it contracts. This simple system results in a 400:1 power to weight ratio. The bundle of muscles required to operate the hand makes for a very large Popeye-esque forearm so we probably won’t be seeing anything humanoid based on this anytime soon. They have GPL’d control code available though so anybody that wants to start developing for this will probably have a pretty easy time. You still have to justify paying an “arm and a leg” for a hand. The site has some good movement videos for you to check out. Just don’t mimic the movements; there’s a reason robots can’t feel pain.
[via Future Feeder]