Do we really care about a robot that flips pancake? I guess not, but what we do care about is the learning algorithm programmed into it.
This robot is actually learning to flip pancakes by reinforcement learning. The skill is first demonstrated by a human holding the robotic arm and performing the flip a couple of times — and then the robot tries it and learns. It took 50 trials, but the robot first learned how to throw the pancake in the air and then how to catch the pancake without having it bounced off the pan. Some of us probably still haven’t mastered this skill yet!
Forget about the pancake. Think about this learning algorithm eventually embedded into our GPS devices [yeah, why can’t my GPS learn my favorite routes?] and, of course, our digital cameras? A camera that learns your preferences, shooting behavior and “idiosyncracies.” Can’t wait.[PopSci]