Earlier this year a group of six Cornell students displayed their most recent work in robotics. They postulated:
Biological organisms can metabolize: break down nutrients into basic building blocks and then use those building blocks to create new things. What if we could reproduce this kind of process in a robotic system?They hope to show that structures can be erected, maintained and modified, all with little or no human interaction. To be sure this is an early depiction of this idea. But the idea of robots repairing structures without human interaction has only been thought of on space-bound craft in Si-Fi movies and books. Good 'ole R2D2 was designed for this kind of work. Where would Luke Skywalker have been if the trusty R2 hadn't repaired those loose flaps and whatnots trying to come loose while under fire from the evil Empire?
I don't think any steel erectors will be loosing any jobs soon, but it seems possible such robots could be involved in manufacturing environments pretty quickly. Read the full article and let your mind run wild.