Robert Hogg, a JPL robotics engineer, discussed how robots have moved from the realm of science-fiction into science fact. While growing up, he said he was inspired by visions of the future in books such as Battlefield Earth and I, Robot.
Working in JPL's Mobility Systems Concept Development section, Hogg's said he has been concerned with putting together robots that are capable of traversing any type of surface that humans would like them to explore in the solar system (such as the Rovers currently on Mars). Sony's robotic dog Aibo and an inexpensive robot vacuum cleaner are two inventions which have successfully moved robotics into the home, Hogg noted. However he is not concerned that robots may eventually try to take over. They still have something very basic missing, he said, though he added that IBM's Deep Blue, through sheer computation power, was able to defeat chess master Gary Kasparov.
Nanotechnology will eventually allow for the miniaturization of robotics. Describing one such usage, he said it will be possible to inject a nano-agent into a syringe that could treat or repair internal medical problems.