A robot gripper is a specialized end effector that can take either of two general forms: handlike, and non-handlike. These two main schemes arise from different engineering philosophies.

Some researchers say that the human hand is an advanced device, having evolved by natural selection. Therefore, they say, robotics engineers should imitate human hands when designing and building robot grippers. Other roboticists argue that specialized grippers should be used, because robots ordinarily must do only a few specific tasks. Human hands are used for many things, but such versatility might be unnecessary, and even detrimental, in a robot made for a single task.

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