A few classmates and I did a marketing research project on autonomous robots (mainly motion manipulators). Basically, some predict that robots are following the same trends of the personal computer about 20 years ago. But if you think about personal computers, they helped us do things that we could not otherwise do on our own. It’s arguable that robots are either a set of technologies wrapped up into one then combined with movement or a replacement for humans. Now if you look into military applications, robots are doing things that humans cannot. Imagine a robot that covers a bomb to prevent harm to others. Certainly a human cannot do that without dying. So then you think about what Japan is doing. They are by far the leaders in robots in the world. Japan is big with research of robots in the health industry. Some say that Japan focuses on humanoid type of robots whereas the US focuses on functional application of robots, not necessarily taking a human form.
Okay, in any case, stay on the look out for robots. One company in the Silicon Valley is Willow Garage. Check out its website.