In the DARPA Robotics Challenge, the idea is to create a robot that can navigate an obstacle course, using skills that could help save humans in an emergency. On the flip side, we may also be creating robot overlords that will one day decide to rule us meat sacks.
For now, we are safe because the autonomous robots can hardly walk across the floor without falling like your drunken uncle at Christmas or a toddler hopped up on sugar. However, some researchers at MIT have devised a new way to make robots virtually as dexterous and balanced as a human.
The new method involves a human controller in an exoskeleton with force feedback. The human is in complete control over the robot and that control makes the robot very agile and quick to respond. The human is able to feel the forces exerted on the robot and keep it upright at all times. Eventually, the team hopes to give the robots superhuman strength, and some degree of autonomy, with humans only controlling precise movements.
All the robots need to do now is enslave us Matrix style to help them control the first generation.