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When Carnegie Mellon professor Howie Choset watches his students take tests, he’s certainly impressed with their ability to solve complex engineering problems. But what really fascinates him is the way they can effortlessly twirl a pencil around their fingers.

That’s because the most mundane things humans can do with their hands — whether it’s writing something down, grabbing an egg out of its carton, or picking an awkwardly stacked book off the shelf — are still big challenges for robots built by engineers like Choset.

“Manipulation, in many ways, is one of the final frontiers in robotics,” he says.

Robots hold a lot of promise as our future factory workers, warehouse stockers, and personal assistants. But the android takeover likely won’t happen until robots have hands as dextrous as ours. While robotic grippers and graspers already exist to pick up specific objects in controlled settings, a robot hand that’s as versatile as a human one is still just out of reach.

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Woman adjusting robot hand. Peter Cade / Getty Images

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Click link below for article videos:

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/the-big-questions/robots-take-our-jobs-they-need-get-grip-n741336

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