Progress Level 5: Though crude automata have existed before this era, PL 5 is the widely accepted dawn of robotics, due to the development of the programmable manipulator arm in 1954. The field rapidly advanced, hand in hand with computer technology, until a crude form of artificial intelligence allowed for the creation of robots with the ability to solve basic problems on their own. Such robots are still generally confined to military and scientific applications, but simple, programmable robots are available as high-tech "toys." Humanoid robots exist, though they qualify only by dint of their general shape; robots in the shape of animals are also common.
Progress Level 6: The versatility of robots continues to improve throughout this Progress Level. Robots can make choices from among a multitude of options, and specific components like legs and hands become more commonplace. Emergency services routinely use specialized robots to handle dangerous situations, and many households include "smart" appliances that cook, clean, patrol, and even babysit. In some cultures, robots are more common than pets. Truly bipedal robots finally become feasible for widespread use, paving the way for the first androids-robots that resemble and behave more or less like humans (or animals), but which are still easily distinguishable from the real thing.
Progress Level 7: Robots have become so common by this era that they appear in nearly every sector of daily life. Robots teach schoolchildren, maintain hazardous equipment, and fight wars. Miniature electroflex technology-artificial muscles-arrives, paving the way for the first lifelike androids. Bioreplica robots are in limited use, however; they raise so many legal questions that most manufacturers stick to the more easily identifiable non-replica androids. The legal ramifications do not extend to animal bioreplicas, however, and "synthetic pets" are both common and popular.
Progress Level 8: Advances in metallurgy enable robotics designers to create "liquid-state" robots: machines that can alter their physical form into nearly any shape desired. Applications involving such robots are mostly confined to space exploration, but the military and intelligence communities show great interest.