Sensor based, computer controlled end effectors for mechanical arms are receiving more and more attention in the robotics industry, because commonly available grippers are only adequate for simple pick and place tasks. This paper describes the current status of the research at JPL on a smart hand for a Puma 560 robot arm. The hand is a self contained, autonomous system, capable of executing high level commands from a supervisory computer. The mechanism consists of parallel fingers, powered by a DC motor, and controlled by a microprocessor embedded in the hand housing. Special sensors are integrated in the hand for measuring the grasp force of the fingers, and for measuring forces and torques applied between the arm and the surrounding environment. Fingers can be exercised under position, velocity and force control modes. The single-chip microcomputer in the hand executes the tasks of communication, data acquisition and sensor based motor control, with a sample cycle of 2 ms and a transmission rate of 9600 baud. The smart hand described in this paper represents a new development in the area of end effector design because of its multi-functionality and autonomy. It will also be a versatile test bed for experimenting with advanced control schemes for dexterous manipulation.