Robot learns to flip pancakes

Engineers from the Italian Institute of Technology taught a robot arm how to flip pancakes. The robot mastered the skill through kinesthetic learning, repeated movement. I think it's very endearing, especially when the robot misses. From the project page:
After 50 trials, the robot learns that the first part of the task requires a stiff behavior to throw the pancake in the air, while the second part requires the hand to be compliant in order to catch the pancake without having it bounced off the pan.
Programming-by-demonstration (Thanks, Ken Goldberg!)


  1. Good. Now teach the robot to get drunk so that he can say “oh hey you guys you know what would be… like… fuckin’… INCREDIBLE right now? Some PANCAKES!”

  2. I was gonna make some sort of snarky comment, then I watched the vid. Very cool – I mean this sort of learned skill is a major step forward in robotics. Gives hope that one day we might actually get taken over and enslaved by our new robot overlords.

  3. I am very impressed that someone has built a learning program for robots — it doesn’t really matter what it is for. I was most impressed that the robot learned from experience.

    Now, if only humans could do the same thing — and I don’t refer to flipping pancakes.

  4. aww, sparky can come over to my house anytime. wait, what is that rubber band around its pancakes?

  5. This makes me think of Terminator in a frilly apron flipping robo-pancakes in his robo-kitchen.

  6. I remember reading something about this a few years ago. While I can’t recall what it said exactly (and Google is not helping, either), it went more or less like that:

    “Ridcully and the rest of elderly wizards of UU were pretty happy to have the brightest minds in the new generation spending hours to teach Hex to do something a hobo off the street would do for a penny”.

    1. …there’s something comforting in knowing that some of the best brains in the University … [were] … exulting at getting a machine to do after six hours’ work something that any human off the street would do for tuppence…
      Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent

  7. Awww, cute!
    So this is how skynet takes over the world: acting like a toddler so that we go “Awww, cute! Lemme show you, little robot!”

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