"The 1980s were the PC years, the 1990s the Internet years. The first decade of 2000 will belong to the robot." These were the words of a Sony spokesperson visiting Paris to launch the robot dog, Aibo. Science fiction writers first heralded the trend. They were relayed by film-makers and video game creators who put robots into the mainstream consciousness. From smart toys for toddlers to the first autonomous vacuum cleaners, robots have gradually been taking their place in the home. At the same time industry and medicine have been making growing use of them - be they androids or just articulated limbs. On Mars and the Moon, robots have undertaken missions denied to their human creator. They have blazed trails into interplanetary worlds that would otherwise have remained uncharted territory. Back home on Earth, robotics enthusiasts' clubs and societies are mushrooming - the first signs of a creative bubbling-under that is reminiscent of the rise of computer technology. The Bill Gates of tomorrow could well emerge in the robotics industry. A sign of the times is that artists are beginning to introduce electronic beings into their work, using them as a way of examining what it means to be a human being. We have sought to describe this incredible crucible of creativity and take a panoramic view of the thousand facets of robotics. Robots intrigue, amaze, worry and disconcert. Clearly, we must now come to terms with the fact that they are among us. This book seeks to be the first "written and photo reportage" on a development that affects every branch of society. Each chapter depicts robots in a given environment and adumbrates the underlying message. Features of the book include an anthology of films featuring robots, from Metropolis to I Robot; a survey of robots in space, including Mars rovers; robotic household appliances; robotic toys, including Aibo and Poochie and Lego Mindstorm; and robots in contemporary art.