Robots already in use everywhere
Sales of industrial robots cnc machining have risen to record levels and they have huge, untapped potential for domestic chores like mowing the lawn and vacuuming the carpet. Last year 3,000 underwater robots, 2,300 demolition robots and 1,600 surgical robots were in operation. A big increase is predicted for domestic robots for vacuum cleaning and lawn mowing, increasing from 12,500 in 2000 to almost 500,000 by the end of 2004. IBot Roomba floor cleaning robot is now available at under $200.00.
In the wake of recent anthrax scares, robots are increasingly used in postal sorting applications. Indeed, there is huge potential to mechanize the US postal service. Some 1,000 robots were installed last year to sort parcels and the US postal service has estimated that it has the potential to use up to 80,000 robots for sorting.
Look around at the robots around us today: automated gas pumps, bank ATMs, self-service checkout lanes，machines that are already replacing many service jobs.
Fast-forward another few decades. It doesn't require a great leap of faith to envision how advances in image processing, microprocessor speed and human-simulation could lead to the automation of most boring, cnc machining low-intelligence, low-paying jobs.
Marshall Brain (yes, that's his name) founder of HowStuffWorks.com has written a couple of interesting essays about robotics in the future, well worth reading. He feels that it is quite plausible that over the next 40 years robots will displace most human jobs. According to Brain's projections, in his essay "Robotic Nation", humanoid robots will be widely available by 2030. They will replace jobs currently filled by people for work such as fast-food service, housecleaning and retail sales. Unless ways are found to compensate for these lost jobs, Brain estimates that more than 50% of Americans could be unemployed by 2055 replaced by robots.
Intelligent robots will be everywhere
The world of HAL and Data, of sentient machines, is fast approaching. Indeed, in some ways it has already arrived as humanlike machines increasingly take on the work of humans. As processing power increases exponentially, and as MEMS technology brings smaller and smarter sensors and actuators, robots are the breeding ground for future-generation products with new, cnc machining varied and exciting applications.