People's #1 fear when shaking the hand of a robot: having it mash their digits like Popsicle sticks. Two Stanford grad's solution: coat the robo-hand in the same material used in touch-screen phones to give it a precision grip.
Stanford University grad students, John Ulmen and Dan Aukes, have designed and built just such a four-fingered manipulator. Well, not so much built as printed — each of the four, tri-jointed fingers was produced using a 3D printer before being wrapped in the touch-sensitive "skin". This allows the robot to recognise when its grip is strong enough to not drop what it's lifting but simultaneously prevent it from getting... over-enthusiastic.
"We've taken advantage of these [smartphone tactile display]technologies," said Pablo Garcia, an SRI robot designer and project design lead, "and we're banking on the fact they will continue to evolve and be made even cheaper."