When world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma announced that he would be playing with the Detroit Symphony, every seat was sold. However, Yo-Yo Ma’s performance was not the only thing that amazed the audience. The conductor did too. The conductor stepped onto the stage and lifted both arms to direct the musicians who played the song "The Impossible Dream." Until recently, that is exactly what this performance would have been. This is because ASIMO, the conductor, is only eight years old and 1.2 meters tall. It is also a robot. The scientists who built ASIMO equipped it with many abilities such as climbing stairs, recognizing faces, or even helping musicians make beautiful music.
Since the 1960s, robots have been doing jobs that are too boring or dangerous for humans. These industrial robots, unlike ASIMO, do not have a humanoid appearance. But now that robots are moving into our homes, many are starting to look more like us. One company has built a dish-washing robot called Monty. To reach the sink, Monty needed to be more than 1.5 meters tall and have a human-like hand to pick up coffee cups. "Once you make a robot for human environments," says the company’s manager, "you end up getting closer to a human shape. But building robots to look like people is not always necessary.” His company also makes a disc-shaped vacuuming robot called the Roomba and more than 3 million are already in use.