Robots are more common than you might think, like this one: the Roomba.
HELEN GREINER: "We want to do something simple that people could use every day. And that's what inspired us to build the Roomba. We wanted to be helpful around the house."
Helen Greiner helped to form iRobot, a manufacturer of robots. She says robots might be part of us in the future.
HELEN GREINER: "You can have robotics incorporated into your body, to give back that arm or leg that you've lost, either in [military] service or through some accident or disease."
Recently, the Association for Unmanned Vehicles International met in Colorado. Association president Michael Toscano says civilian uses of robots are growing.
MICHAEL TOSCANO: "Whether it be firefighting, whether it be first-responders, whether it be disaster response, unmanned systems allows that human being to be able to do their mission with an extension of their hands, their eyes and their ears."
Radio-controlled robots can explode bombs or buried land mines. Edison Hudson of iRobot says some robots can swim and can study ocean pollution.
EDISON HUDSON: "We can put them in the ocean and they'll swim for eight or nine months, collecting data."
Here, the government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, demonstrates a robotic man. Robert Mandelbaum works for the agency.
ROBERT MANDELBAUM: "DARPA has a history of inventing things like the Arpanet, which is the father of the Internet, that was in the 1960s, Saturn V rockets, stealth aircraft."
This robot is the Autonomous Robotic Manipulation program, also known as ARM. It can examine objects, find one with a design, and move it from one place to another. Mandelbaum says more difficult work could be possible in the future.
ROBERT MANDELBAUM: "Pick up a gym bag, unzip it, reach inside, feel around without visual feedback, and find an object that's inside the gym bag."
In this way, a robot might itself find a hidden bomb or help a disabled person with his clothing. DARPA plans to let anyone write computer software for the robot, then go on the Internet and watch a model perform the work. I'm Faith Lapidus.