A learning robot built at Iowa State University is being developed to learn like a human child; researchers are aiming for the learning capabilities of a human two-year old child. It was developed by assistant professor Alexander Stoytchev and a team of students.
The robot uses a series of tests to learn to recognize objects. Much like a child, it grabs, pushes, taps, shakes and drops (that sounds like two year-olds I've had in my own house) objects to learn about them. It can even try to mark them with a pencil, and then see if the surface of the object can be marked. I hope they 'child-proofed' their lab before turning it loose.
In a test with 22 different objects, it could successfully identify them 99% of the time after performing its testing sequence.
Take a look at this video to learn more; you can skip about 1 minute and 15 seconds in to get to the good parts.
(Iowa State learning robot video>)
The Iowa State learning robot has quite a wide variety of facial expressions as well; take a look at this shorter video to see the face of the robotic future.