Take a look at this impressive video of a tentacle arm taken at MIT's AI lab in 1968; it can give children a hug and is strong enough to lift a person.
(Video shows Minsky's 1968 tentacle robot arm)
“This film from 1968 shows Marvin Minsky’s tentacle arm, developed at the MIT AI Lab (one of CSAIL’s forerunner labs). The arm had twelve joints and could be controlled by a PDP-6 computer or via a joystick. This video demonstrates that the arm was strong enough to lift a person, yet gentle enough to embrace a child.”
H.G. Wells was the first one to paint this picture in fiction (as far as I know); readers recall the steel tentacles from his 1898 novel War of the Worlds:
Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange body.
There have been improvements since 1968; wrap your robotic manipulators around these articles:
Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-M’Lou in and out of the atmosphere...'