A robot is a mechanical or virtual artificial agent, usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry. Robots can be autonomous or semi-autonomous and range from humanoids such as Honda's Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) and TOSY's TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot (TOPIO) to industrial robots, medical operating robots, patent assist robots, dog therapy robots, collectively programmed swarm robots, UAV drones such as General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, and even microscopic nano robots. By mimicking a lifelike appearance or automating movements, a robot may convey a sense of intelligence or thought of its own.
The branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing is robotics. These technologies deal with automated machines that can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes, or resemble humans in appearance, behavior, and/or cognition. Many of today's robots are inspired by nature contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics. These robots have also created a newer branch of robotics: soft robotics.
From the time of ancient civilization there have been many accounts of user-configurable automated devices and even automata resembling animals and humans, designed primarily as entertainment. As mechanical techniques developed through the Industrial age, there appeared more practical applications such as automated machines, remote-control and wireless remote-control.
The word 'robot' was first used to denote fictional humanoid in a 1921 play Rossum's Universal Robots R.U.R. by the Czech writer, Karel Čapek. Electronics evolved into the driving force of development with the advent of the first electronic autonomous robots created by William Grey Walter in Bristol, England in 1948. The first digital and programmable robot was invented by George Devol in 1954 and was named the Unimate. It was sold to General Motors in 1961 where it was used to lift pieces of hot metal from die casting machines at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in the West Trenton section of Ewing Township, New Jersey.
- Caterpillar plans to develop remote controlled machines and expects to develop fully autonomous heavy robots by 2021. Some cranes already are remote controlled.
- It was demonstrated that a robot can perform a herding  task.
- Robots are increasingly used in manufacturing (since the 1960s). In the auto industry they can amount for more than half of the "labor". There are even "lights off" factories such as an IBM keyboard manufacturing factory in Texas that is 100% automated.
- Robots such as HOSPI  are used as couriers in hospitals (hospital robot). Other hospital tasks performed by robots are receptionists, guides and porters helpers,  (not to mention surgical robot helpers such as Da Vinci)
- Robots can serve as waiters   and cooks., also at home. Boris is a robot that can load a dishwasher.
Projected robotics timelineEdit
- 2015-2020 - every South Korean and many European households will have a robot, The Ministry of Information and Communication (South Korea), 2007
- 2018 - robots will routinely carry out surgery, South Korea government 2007
- 2022 - intelligent robots that sense their environment, make decisions, and learn are used in 30% of households and organizations - TechCast
- 2030 - robots capable of performing at human level at most manual jobs Marshall Brain
- 2034 - robots (home automation systems) performing most household tasks, Helen Greiner, Chairman of iRobot
- 2050 - robot "brains" based on computers that execute 100 trillion instructions per second will start rivaling human intelligence
- 2015 - one third of US fighting strength will be composed of robots - US Department of Defense, 2006
- 2035 - first completely autonomous robot soldiers in operation - US Department of Defense, 2006
- 2013-2014 — agricultural robots (AgRobots,).
- 2013-2017 — robots that care for the elderly
- 2017 — medical robots performing low-invasive surgery
- 2017-2019 — household robots with full use.
- 2019-2021 — Nanorobots
The technotariat is the technostist term for robotics and artificial intelligence whom replace the proletariat, essentially becoming an artificial class. By definition, any robot whose labour is profited by another is part of the technotariat.