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Two fundamental objectives--developing quick-change hands 47 and developing general-purpose hands--seek to alleviate the constraints on dexterity at the end of a robot arm. As described earlier, common practice is to design a new end effector for each application. As robots are used in more complex tasks (assembly, for example), the need to handle a variety of parts and tools is unavoidable. For a good discussion of current end-effector technology, see Toepperwein et al. [9]. The quick-change hand is one that the robot can rapidly change itself, thus permitting it to handle a variety of objects.

Fear of not succeeding. This is as detrimental to technological progress as in any other art or science. Industry and government have often committed funds to unambitious projects that met inadequate risks in order to prove nothing. Calling it AI when it is not or is only loosely related. The expectation that development in this area will be readily funded encourages jumping on bandwagons. Lack of credentials. Several people and groups are claiming expertise in AI, though they may not have the rich base upon which research capability is normally developed.

The development of a dexterous hand is still a research issue. Many laboratories in this country and abroad are working on three-fingered hands and other configurations. In many cases the individual fingers are themselves jointed manipulators. In the design of a dexterous hand, development of sensors to provide a sense of touch is a prerequisite. Thus, with sensory perception, a dexterous hand becomes the problem of designing three robots (one for each of three fingers) that require coordinated control.

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