Robotics has been with us for a very long time. Mostly they have just performed automated and repetitive roles in a factory. However, we have tried to make them more sophisticated to be life like. There are countless films that depict robots that can emulate people. The reality is a long way from that. No matter how people feel about them.
The reason why there is currently a growing interest is because the processing power of computers as increased exponentially over the last decade and with more people exploring the possibilities of using code creatively there have been significant advances.
Driverless cars are an example autonomous robots. The rise of Artificial Intelligence has also increased the prospect of free thinking sentient beings and caused quite a stir as to the ethics of it and even the future of mankind. Again we are a long way from the machines taking over.
At a more grass roots level it is possible to learn the basics through the use of servo, stepper or DC motors. For which the Arduino Uno is brilliantly placed to help you get to grips with the basics. The best way to learn is to play. So have a go. I will be writing more on this after I have had a good play with robotics myself.