- THE arm of a typical industrial robot is a crude-looking but functional implement designed for a single job, such as placing tiny components onto a circuit board or painting a car. Some robots have pincer-like claws to pick things up. But none comes close to the complex abilities of the human hand. Or, at least, none did until the Shadow Robot Company, based in London, began working on the problem.Shadow Robot has developed a robotic hand that closely mimics the human version. It has already sold several of them to various universities and to NASA, Americaâ€™s space agency. And it has taken an order from Britainâ€™s Ministry of Defence, which wants to try the hand out on the arm of a bomb-disposal robot.