Robots have been used in surgery since the late 1980s. Orthopaedic surgery began to incorporate robotic technology in 1992, with the introduction of ROBODOC, for the planning and performance of total hip replacement. The use of robotic systems has subsequently increased, with promising short-term radiological outcomes when compared with traditional orthopaedic procedures. Robotic systems can be classified into two categories: autonomous and haptic (or surgeon-guided). Passive surgery systems, which represent a third type of technology, have also been adopted recently by orthopaedic surgeons. While autonomous systems have fallen out of favour, tactile systems with technological improvements have become widely used. Specifically, the use of tactile and passive robotic systems in unicompartmental knee replacement (UKR) has addressed some of the historical mechanisms of failure of non-robotic UKR. These systems assist with increasing the accuracy of the alignment of the components and produce more consistent ligament balance. Short-term improvements in clinical and radiological outcomes have increased the popularity of robot-assisted UKR. Robot-assisted orthopaedic surgery has the potential for improving surgical outcomes. We discuss the different types of robotic systems available for use in orthopaedics and consider the indication, contraindications and limitations of these technologies.