Arguably, the most successful robots to date have been our interplanetary explorers. The twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity far exceeded their operational design time, lasting years instead of weeks.
Voyager 2, launched in 1977, has recently left the solar system, becoming the first man-made object to do so.
V’Ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture
It’s reasonable to assume that our first interstellar explorer will be followed by many more. Indeed, the first explorer from Earth to reach another planet may well indeed be an AI-powered robot, albeit far in the future. This is far more likely than a human astronaut making the journey.
As noted in the Daily Express article below, this implies that our first contact with extraterrestrials may well be with an Artificial Intelligence. The article is based on a recent paper by Susan Schneider, who suggests that we should be looking for signals from artificial life. Such life may not be dependent on the current requirements for organic life and we could widen the scope of programs like SETI.
It’s also likely that should ET show up at our planet, it would be an AI. Given the recent negative stories on AI, this may not be a good thing. And we don’t even have the Avengers to look after us.