Given our own pitiful attempts to create robots that do anything useful - besides run restaurants and plot the destruction of mankind - it's hard not to think of them as anything other than a wistful futurist's dream.
But in fact robots have been around for longer than you'd think.
Even in the 18th century - more than 200 years ago - inventors were tinkering with automata. And they still look surprisingly realistic.
Those machines were able to write, draw, speak, play chess and perform music - even if they were mainly produced for wealthy patrons and had no ability to 'think' like some more modern machines.
Watching these vintage robots is just another reminder that even in robotics, the ingenuity of people who make them is the thing most worth celebrating.
Take a look at our five favourites, below.
The writer is an 18th century automaton built by Jaquet Droz, was the inspiration for the movie Hugo, and still works today.
La Joueuse de Tympanon
La Joueuse de Tympanon is an 18th century automaton which plays the piano.
The Turk, built by Van Kempelen, was the world's first chess-playing robot.
The Boy Artist
Built by Henri Maillardet in 1810, this automaton can produce four drawings and three poems.
The Silver Swan is made completely out of clockwork.