Japanese firms continue to set the pace in the development of multifunctional, interactive robots. The work to improve ASIMO, the world's most advanced autonomous bipedal humanoid robot, continues at Honda Motor Co. The newest model, released in December 2005, boasts a high level of communication skills and suggests that it may not be long before there are real robots similar to fictional robot heroes like Astro Boy and C-3PO of the Star Wars films.
Implications - Futurists are currently looking toward robotics as the next field to explode, similar to the way in which communications technology expanded in the last 20 years. Businesses that concentrate on automated machines -- not necessarily robots -- will cut labor costs associated and economize their customer service relationship.