This robot is capable of learning by watching; you can manipulate its arm, then the robot will try to reproduce you actions. As you can see in the video above it does take trial and error.
Dr. Jan Peters at the Robot Learning Lab; who leads the team who built the arm, is part of the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, in Tübingen, Germany.
Take the example of a person learning tennis. The teacher takes the student by the hand and shows basic movements: This is a forehand, this is a backhand, this is a serve. Still, it will take hours and hours of training before the student even feels comfortable at performing these behaviors. Even more practice is needed for the student to be able to play an actual game with these elementary behaviors."
But still, he asks? humans succeed at learning the task. Why can't robots do the same?
"That's what we're trying to do: Make our robots mimic the way humans learn new behaviors."
Now not only do we have to lose the the Chinese at every World Table Tennis Championships; we are going to get our behinds handed to us by a team of one armed German robots.
SOURCE: IEEE SPECTRUM