Robots have disappointed humans so far in their ability to mix and help people in their everyday lives.
Other than industry and research, they have mostly been for entertainment.
But a group of robotics researchers at University Jaume I in Spain is working on a robot librarian which could deliver the promise of a helpful bot.
The prototype has cameras, sensors and grippers so it can locate and collect a book. The hope is that one day teams of service robots could work in libraries.
The main issue with deploying service robots outside of the factory to work in domains surrounded by people has been one of safety, explained Professor Angel del Pobil.
Mixing robots and humans in an unstructured, uncontrolled environment, where there all manner of obstacles to negotiate, could have unpredictable results.
Professor Pobil thinks libraries are the best place to start introducing robots into public spaces, or at least to start showing that the technology is possible and works.