Amazon founder Jeff Bezos controls the world’s first touch-transmitting telerobotic hand at Amazon re:MARS tech showcase

Jeff Bezos took control of a pair of giant, remote-controlled robot hands on Wednesday at Amazon's robotics conference re:MARS in Las Vegas.

The tech billionaire used the hands to stack cups and pass a ball from one hand to the other. After being passed a Rubik's Cube Bezos responded: “No thank you, I can't even do that with my hands.”

Bezos said the feedback was “really tremendous”, and that using them felt “weirdly natural”.

The robot was an exhibit by two companies, Shadow Robot and HaptX. Shadow Robot specialises in building dextrous robotic hands, HaptX develops technology for giving people the sensation of touch for remotely operated robotics, as well as VR.

Main image and video credit Alan Boyle from GeekWire

In recent tests, a human operator in California was able to operate a computer keyboard in London, with each keystroke detected through fingertip sensors on their glove and faithfully relayed 5000 miles to the Dexterous Hand to recreate. Combining touch with teleoperation in this way is ground-breaking and points to future applications where we might choose – or need – to perform delicate actions at a distance, e.g. bomb disposal, deep-sea engineering or even surgery performed across different states.

Rich Walker, managing director of the Shadow Robot Company said: “Our remotely controlled systemcan help transform work within risky environments such as nuclear decommissioning and we’re already in talks with the UK nuclear establishment regarding the application of this advanced technology. It adds a layer of safety between the worker and the radiation zone as well as increasing precision and accuracy within glovebox-related tasks.”