The nanorobotics lab at Carnegie Mellon University is doing interesting work
Nanomanipulation project goal: To develop a robotic manipulation system that can autonomously construct complex three-dimensional micro and nano-structures from micro and nano-parts. To develop a large-scale assembly system to mass-assemble micro and nano-devices. Currently: A micromanipulation system is developed that can autonomously construct two-dimensional micro-arrangements of spheres sized from 3um to 20um in diameter. They are looking to get smaller using atomic force microscopes.
nanoManipulation Modeling project goal: Develop a continuum physical model of the dynamics of nano-scale particle manipulation. Complete computer simulations have been devised based on preliminary modeling of the physics of nano-scale dynamics. These simulations will be compared with the experimental Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) probe based nanoparticle pushing data.
Integrated NanoTool Carrier project goal: Develop an autonomous mobile robot equipped with various exchangeable nano tools(e.g. drills, shears, saws, buckets, and grippers) by applying a novel ultra precise positioning strategy to improve the flexibility and versatility of existing nano imaging and manipulating facilities and also perform assigned nano missions in a cooperative and efficient way by colony of robots.
Telenano project goal: Augmented Reality User Interface for Atomic Force Microscopes (afm)
Project to make 3D nanofibers and nanofiber networks from polymers
Foresight's Nanodot reports that at a NASA nanotech meeting in August 2004, Prof. Sitti gave his timing projections: 5-10 yrs: nanoassembly, nanomanufacturing, hybrid biotic/abiotic robots. After 10 years: atomic and molecular scale manufacturing. He explained that complexity will be a challenge: controlling and programming. So an estimate of 2014, to the start of molecular manufacturing from someone making interesting things now.
The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology has coverage on this