Shadow Hand

Shadow Hand

The Shadow Dexterous Hand is a humaniform robot hand system developed by The Shadow Robot Company in London. The hand is comparable to a human hand in size and shape, and reproduces all of its degrees of freedom. The Hand is commercially available and currently used by NASA, The [ University of Bielefeld ] and Carnegie Mellon University.

Form factor

The Shadow Dexterous Hand has been designed to be as similar as possible to the average hand of the human male. The forearm structure is comparable in length to the human forearm, although at the base it widens to 146mm.

Degrees of freedom

The Shadow Dexterous Hand has been designed to have a range of movement equivalent to that of a typical human hand.

The four fingers of the hand contain two one-axis joints connecting the distal phalanx, middle phalanx and proximal phalanx and one universal joint connecting the finger to the metacarpal.

The little finger has an extra one-axis joint on the metacarpal to provide the Hand with a palm curl movement.

The thumb contains one one-axis joint connecting the distal phalanx to the proximal phalanx, one universal joint connecting the thumb to the metacarpal and one one-axis joint on the bottom of the metacarpal to provide a palm curl movement.

The wrist contains two joints, providing flex/extend and adduct/abduct.

This means that that the Shadow Dexterous hand has 24 joints all together, with 20 degrees of freedom.


The movements of the hand are powered by a set of 40 Air Muscles in the forearm. The flow of air into and out of each muscle is controlled by eighty valves, also in the forearm. This is done based on the information gathered from the joint sensors.


The Shadow Dexterous Robot Hand is the first commercially available robot hand from the company, and follows a series of prototype humanoid hand and arm systems.


Transformation of Shadow Dextrous Hand and Shadow Finger Test Unit from Prototype to Product for Intelligent Manipulation and GraspingMarco Reichel, The Shadow Robot CompanyIMG04, Intelligent Manipulation and Grasping, International Conference, July 1-2, 2004, Genova - Italy
* [ download]


* [ Shadow Dexterous Robot Hand home page]
* [ Shadow Dexterous Robot Hand Technical Specification]

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