Designing the ultimate autonomous vacuum cleaner is the quantifiable and clearly-defined goal of this symposium. It falls short of addressing the problems which most interest roboticists working in artificial intelligence. The painstaking progress and restricted performance of current mobile robots apparently necessitates such a low-level review. Overcoming such challenges and setbacks is essential if robots are to become capable of operating in more interesting regimes. Several questions are presented to help evaluate whether a robotics research program remains oriented towards meaningful long-term goals of autonomy, intelligence and capable performance.