UPDATE: Read IEEE interview with DARPA's Dr. Robert Mandelbaum where, when asked whether there would be a trickle down effect into civilian applications, he said: “It won't just trickle down – it will be a flood! The commercial applications will be all over the place.”
DARPA has chosen lead vendors for a research project to develop a multiple-purpose hand, actually two hands working together. Project completion is mid-2014. Imagine a robot opening the zipper of a duffle and riffling through to find a specific object. Or picking up oddly shaped objects with both arms for search and rescue. – Barrett Technology will develop and provide the hardware portion of the project. – RE Squared will provide integration services for the Barrett hardware with additional sensors and a mobile platform.