The term anthrobotics was originally coined by Mark Rosheim in a paper entitled "Design of An Omnidirectional Arm" presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 13-18, 1990, pp. 2162-2167. Rosheim says he derived the term from "...Anthropomorphic and Robotics to distinguish the new generation of dexterous robots from its simple industrial robot forbears." The word gained wider recognition as a result of its use in the title of Rosheim's subsequent book Robot Evolution: The Development of Anthrobotics, which focussed on facsimiles of human physical and psychological skills and attributes.
However, a wider definition of the term anthrobotics has been proposed, in which the meaning is derived from anthropology rather than anthropomorphic. This usage includes robots that respond to input in a human-like fashion, rather than simply mimicking human actions, thus theoretically being able to respond more flexibly or to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. This expanded definition also encompasses robots that are situated in social environments with the ability to respond to those environments appropriately, such as insect robots, robotic pets, and the like.
Anthrobotics is now taught at some universities, encouraging students not only to design and build robots for environments beyond current industrial applications, but also to speculate on the future of robotics that are embedded in the world at large, as mobile phones and computers are today.