A Japanese robot maker on Tuesday unveiled what it called the world’s first prototype of an artificial hand with “air muscles” that can do even delicate work like picking up a raw egg. Squse, a Kyoto-based robot and factory automation manufacturer, said it has developed a 400-gramme (14 ounce) hand with five human-sized fingers with artificial fibres that can be controlled by air pressure.

“So far, robots have an image of helping people do heavy lifting, but we aim at delicate work as a human hand can do,” company president Mikio Shimizu said.

“Compared to motor-driven ones, air muscle hands are extremely light and less noisy,” Yokoi said, adding that they may be in practical use in about five years’ time.

Wonderful. Especially the light weight. One of the frustrations of using most prostheses is the weight of the critters.

  1. Angel H. Wong says:

    Which makes me wonder, how come no one in the USA is coming with these developments? years ago the Americans were the ones kicking ass when it came to robotics, not it seems all they do now is robot fighting and robot soccer.

  2. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    Prostheses are fine, but that’s of limited utlity. More important to humanity in general, this could eliminate a major barrier to the widespread development of telepresence, an inevitable tech which will soon be ubiquitous forever after…

  3. bobbo says:

    Attach that hand to a latex girl friend, and I think we have a winner.

  4. BubbaRay says:

    Researchers have designed a millimeter-sized sensor that has many of the tactile abilities of a human finger: it can sense the magnitude and the position of an applied force, slippage of a grasping tool, and the softness of an object, such as a cancerous tumor.

    Coupled with this hand, this could bring minimally invasive surgery by telepresence closer to reality.


  5. iPhone fan says:

    [edit: oh, brother. Way too far OT.]

  6. James Hill says:

    I bet it can use an iPhone better than Dvorak.

  7. Hawkeye666 says:

    Ok so, you take this hand and make it USB enabled, then have web sites that can send control codes to it, and you can sell it under the name of….

    whait for it…

    Rosie and her five dancing sisters.

  8. TheGlobalWarmer says:

    I’m sure there’ll be plenty of jobs for that hand…

  9. Podesta says:

    Actually, this is important rehabilitation news. Prosthetics for lower limb replacement are much more advanced than for upper limbs. There really isn’t anything that comes near replacing fingers. About the best that can be done is moving toes to hands if there is enough supporting structure there.

  10. GregA says:

    OMG forget prosthetics! That is a really short sighted use for this thing. Attach these to pick and place machines in the factories and get rid of any remaining workers you have.

  11. Mr. Fusion says:

    #11. you scare me.

  12. Smartalix says:


    The jobs done by people in assembly now are those needing a human mind behind the hands. All basic work went to robots long ago. Those hands are way too clumsy and big for the inside of a pick-and-place machine anyway. those machines use pneumatic rubber “fingers” already to hold parts.

    The question I have is how big is the compressor and control valve assembly for this hand? I strongly doubt that part is self-contained.

  13. Danijel says:

    13# Yea, you probably have lots tubes sticking out of it. But no matter. There are tubes sticking out of your hands, as well. Since these hands don’t have to lift anything heavy, i bet the compressor doesn’t have to be big either…

  14. Smartalix says:

    14, 15,

    It wouuld be in a prosthetic application.

  15. ChrisMac says:


  16. Eideard says:

    #13 – Smartlix, I couldn’t find reference to the size of the reservoir. But, F1 engines have valve actuation from nitrogen pressurized to 2500psi. At such high pressures, they carry extra to allow for leakage at seals – but, ain’t any F1 car going to add much weight and bulk if they can help it.

    In practice, there’s generally sufficient to operate the valve train for a 2-hour race. At the qualitatively lower pressures required for something like this hand, I think a container small enough to be not only portable; but, shaped to fit out of the way [pocket?] would work.

    Pneumatic operation can be damned efficient.

  17. Morty says:

    This is nothing new. There is an air-muscle driven hand picking up eggs on the market for years.


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