An intelligent robot is a remarkably useful combination of a manipulator, sensors and controls. The use of these machines in factory automation can improve productivity, increase product quality and improve competitiveness. This paper presents a discussion of recent technical and economic trends. Technically, the machines are faster, cheaper, more repeatable, more reliable and safer. The knowledge base of inverse kinematic and dynamic solutions and intelligent controls is increasing. More attention is being given by industry to robots, vision and motion controls. New areas of usage are emerging for service robots, remote manipulators and automated guided vehicles. Economically, the robotics industry now has a 1.1 billion-dollar market in the U.S. and is growing. Feasibility studies results are presented which also show decreasing costs for robots and unaudited healthy rates of return for a variety of robotic applications. However, the road from inspiration to successful application can be long and difficult, often taking decades to achieve a new product. A greater emphasis on mechatronics is needed in our universities. Certainly, more cooperation between government, industry and universities is needed to speed the development of intelligent robots that will benefit industry and society.