I suspect the "hand" could be made more usable and easier to control by a human being if there were 10 digits on one "hand". That way, two human hands could be used as the controllers and there would be no need to relearn manual dexterity. (Since all the digits are connected to a single wrist, it might "feel" like using two hands connected with handcuffs). A separate second "hand" on the robot could be used when working on large objects that required the two hands to be separated. If the 5 spare digits on each robot hand were retracted, they could be operated by two human hands in the separated mode. Obviously autonomous robots wouldn't be constrained by the desirability of mapping to the human handler.
Yes "touch recognition"--officially called haptic feedback--is an active area of research worldwide. In fact, I have heard rumors that the iPhone 6 will have haptic feedback when you touch certain parts of the screen.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used on the Mars on EE Times Radio. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.