|An article in the news today talks about nurse robots that will be ready to operate in hospitals in just three years. First, they will perform basic tasks such as mopping up spillages, taking messages, and guiding visitors to hospital beds. Kind of a modest start but in Japan they also proceding with research into helpful robots. At the 2005 International Robot Expo, "Hal" the exoskeleton was introduced. Its wearer could lift up to 88 more pounds than they normally could. (So presumably petite nurses could lift patients out of bed and the like). Given Japan's vast elderly population, I'm sure this concept will become reality in the near future. When will autonomous "personal assistant" robots be available? I don't know but I think it will be sooner rather than later.
Probably they will be preceded by widespread adoption of robotic pets. Since we already accept animatronic pets in the form of "toys" (you've probably heard of Aibo the electronic dog released a few years ago), I think the functionality of these devices will grow until, before we know it, we have real robotic companions.