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Avtar Mandaher

We are at the forefront of developing a revolutionary robotic hand with near-human capabilities, poised to revolutionize the field of robotics. Our cutting-edge technology seamlessly replicates the functionality of the human hand, allowing for effortless integration into a wide range of robotics applications.

The superiority of our robotic hands lies in their exceptional attributes: they are lightweight yet incredibly strong and remarkably cost-effective. These qualities make them an ideal choice for numerous applications, particularly where humans are required to do monotonous, hazardous, and challenging work.

Whether it’s in agriculture or nuclear decommissioning, there exists a pressing demand for robotic labour that can fulfill the need for increased efficiency or safeguard human beings from perilous conditions. With our dexterous robotic hands, robotic systems can now automate tasks that were previously deemed impossible to mechanize.

Join us in shaping the future of automation, where our advanced robotic hands pave the way for unparalleled efficiency, safety, and productivity across various industries.

Tell us about yourself?

I’ve always loved inventing and tinkering from an early age, playing with Mega Blocks and Lego a lot as a kid – the classic future engineer activity. It wasn’t until high school that I realized I wanted to be an engineer after participating in the Science Olympics in grades 11 and 12 and winning several events. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to specialize in, though, since I found the mechanical, electrical, and software side of things interesting. So I chose to go to UBC (University of British Columbia) as the first year is general, and you specialize in the second year. Beyond engineering, though, I love video games (Doom Eternal is probably my favourite game I’ve played in the past three years), skiing, cars, and movies.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I graduated from UBC in the Fall of 2019 with my Bachelor’s in Integrated Engineering, specializing in Mechanical and Computer Engineering. I loved the engineering specialization I chose because it really let me explore a range of disciplines, and the multifaceted nature of the degree is what gave me the tools I needed to start my own robotics company during the pandemic. My company was spun out of my third-year design project, where I came up with an idea for a shape memory material (SMM) actuated prosthetic hand. My team won the best third-year design project, and after the course, I continued working on it as a hobby project throughout the remainder of my degree, trying to improve on that initial prototype.

If I could go back and give myself some advice, it would probably be to try participating in more of the engineering teams at UBC since there are a lot of bright students doing amazing things, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to get some hands-on experience.

Sarcomere Dynamics

What problem does your business solve?

We enable autonomous and tele-operative robotic systems to dynamically interact with a world designed by humans for humans. Robots are great at navigating their environments and identifying objects, but it’s when they reach their destination that they need to be able to do useful work. The end effector solutions currently available aren’t great at enabling them to dynamically interact with a range of objects or environments.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

We started out in prosthetics since that’s what the original project I was working on was aimed at. However, it was through the e@UBC program that we identified the need for near-human robotic hands in a range of robotics applications. The prototype hand we had was too dexterous and would be difficult to control for amputees with existing EMG (electromyography) technology, so we decided to pivot to the robotics industry (we do intend to come back to prosthetics in the future to provide a cost-effective device for amputees).

Sarcomere Dynamics

What is your magic sauce?

It really started with an old 3D printer I got in the summer of my second year at UBC. I was looking for projects to do and came across servo-driven prosthetic hands. The first one I made was heavy and weak, and I wasn’t satisfied with the results, so I started researching actuators and ways to reduce the weight, which led me to shape memory materials (SMM). I can’t share too much of the secret sauce, but shape memory materials and new manufacturing techniques let us iterate quickly and make extremely lightweight and strong dexterous robotic hands.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We make and assemble almost everything in-house (our PCBs currently must be manufactured out-of-house, though). It lets us improve the design of our devices and bring the cost down for us and businesses that buy our end effectors. Over the next five years, we hope to be the standard for near-human functionality in humanoid robots, general-purpose robots, and tele-operative robots.

At Sarcomere Dynamics, our mission is to revolutionize telerobotic systems and enhance safety and efficiency in high-risk scenarios. We envision setting new benchmarks for robotic hand capabilities and performance, ultimately reshaping the landscape of the industry. Our values of innovation, collaboration, excellence, and customer-centricity guide our every decision and action. We are driven by a passion for pushing boundaries and delivering solutions that exceed customer expectations, ultimately contributing to the advancement of automation on a global scale.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Our biggest challenge so far is a great problem to have, and it’s scaling up manufacturing for the demand we are seeing or hearing. Every industry is poised to start solving labour issues with robotics, and a critical element that is needed is dexterous robotic hands that enable these systems to interact with the world and do valuable work. Robotic hands are an enormous engineering design challenge, and a lot of companies want an off-the-shelf hand they can use as an end effector as soon as possible. Our agnostic, universal hand is the solution; it’s plug-and-play.

How can people get involved?

We decided to release the Artus 3D this fall as an entry-level robotic hand that provides near-human dexterity for a low cost since we had so many customers eager to integrate this device into their systems. This also gives us more time to refine our higher-performance hand designs and improve our manufacturing capabilities.

People can get involved by reaching out and talking to our engineers about the automation challenges they are having. We can discuss how we can solve their most urgent manipulation issues, whether it is simple pick and place or more complex assembly tasks. Whatever the human hand can do, with our products, we can now automate.

We are always receptive to discussing collaborations on automation projects.

Or, if you just want the hand, you can pre-order for November delivery.