Back in the early 1970s, a handful of scientists, engineers, defense contractors and U.S. Air Force officers got together to form a professional group. They were essentially trying to solve the same problem: how to build machines that can operate on their own without human control and to figure out ways to convince both the pub­lic and a reluctant Pentagon brass that ro­­bots on the battlefield are a good idea. For decades they met once or twice a year, in relative obscurity, to talk over technical issues, exchange gossip and renew old friendships. This once cozy group, the Association for Un­­manned Systems International, now encompasses more than 1,500 member companies and organizations from 55 countries. The growth happened so fast, in fact, that it found itself in something of an identity crisis. At one of its meetings in San Diego, it even hired a “master storyteller” to help the group pull together the narrative of the amazing changes in robotic technology. As one attendee summed up, “Where have we come from? Where are we? And where should we—and where do we want to—go?”