Fully robotic bomb disposal hand 18 months away - Source: Shadow Robot Company

Engineers have developed a robotic hand that offers remotely controlled, highly dexterous movements that could lead to a breakthrough in areas such as bomb disposal.

The Shadow Dextrous Hand, developed by English firm Shadow Robot Company, is able to replicate 24 incredibly precise movements that are designed to provide similar force output and sensitivity to the human hand.   

The humanoid robotic hand, which was on display at the TechnologyWorld forum at London's Excel Centre yesterday, is driven by 20 motor units mounted below the wrist which provide compliant movements, with each motor corresponding to a joint on a hand.

The new C6M2 model can be remotely controlled by a glove worn by an operator connected to a computer, this can then communicate via a wireless connection with the hand offering real time comparable movements. 

In the future this could allow the incredibly sophisticated movements that are required in dangerous tasks such as disposing of explosive materials from a safe distance.

“We are approximately eighteen months to two years away from being able to have the technology at the stage where it can be reliably used in a environment such as bomb disposal,” Jake Goldsmith, robotics engineer at Shadow told TechEye

Goldsmith says one challenge has been getting the pressure right. While it may seem like little effort, something as simple as pushing a button on a mobile phone needs a fair amount of force behind it - but not too much. As Shadow Robot Company is discussing military applications, the kinks need to be ironed out before it enters the real world:

“While the hand functions very well now, to be used in such a situation it would need to work perfectly 100 percent of the time which will take more testing.”

Here's a video of a previous model: