Robotics is already a very important field in terms of industrial production capabilities and service strengths, but it grows ever more important as new technological advances launch robotics in new fields. Innovation has lead to robotics being introduced on the battlefield, in outer space, in hospitals, and even in domestic settings.
Small-range, everyday robots include production robots on assembly lines in the manufacturing industry, as well as smaller robots performing everyday service assistance, like vacuuming, distributing medicine and vehicle operation.
The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have seen exponential change in robotics implementation. Drone planes, capable of precision target bombing and reconnaissance, have been deployed by the armed forces to carry out dangerous missions over hazardous terrain, while ground robots capable of scouting out mined territory have also seen action, both in the thousands. Additionally, wounded soldiers have received treatment in the form of surgeries carried out by surgeons assisted by robotic elements or have received robotic rehabilitation assistance or prostheses. Much research is being done into possible robotic solutions for disaster relief and rescue operations, as well as resource mining and prospecting in locations where it would be unfeasible or dangerous for human beings to venture.
Many sources predict an upward and outward trend in robotics as they become more commonplace and their functionality improves. ABI Research reported in January 2009, amidst the economic crisis, that the overall market for service robots would increase over the next half-decade, predicting that “the personal robotics market will be worth $15 billion by 2015.” The U.S. Department of Labor also forecasts job availability in mechanical engineering fields, including robots, to be “good,” with the number of graduates entering the job market roughly equaling job openings through 2016, rising 4 percent.