One strategy for designing robots that are capable in anthropomorphic environments is to make the robots themselves as anthropomorphic as possible. It makes sense—for example, there are stairs all over the place because humans have legs, and legs are good at stairs, so if we give robots legs like humans, they’ll be good at stairs too, right? We also see this tendency when it comes to robotic grippers, because robots need to grip things that have been optimized for human hands.
Despite some amazing robotic hands inspired by the biology of our own human hands, there are also opportunities for creativity in gripper designs that do things human hands are not physically capable of. At ICRA 2020, researchers from Stanford University presented a paper on the design of a robotic hand that has fingers made of actuated rollers, allowing it to manipulate objects in ways that would tie your fingers into knots.