It's nearly impossible to write a modern science fiction novel without touching upon the subject, as current artificial intelligence research continues to progress. I personally can't imagine a future world in which robots are not mentioned in some shape or form.
I decided to tweak the idea of mechanical beings with some level of autonomy through "monosentience." In the Citadel, all robots have limits on their "intelligence" such that they are sentient only within the parameters set by their creators. Each robot is built specifically to fulfill one purpose, and one purpose only. Citadelian robots can perform tasks without any form of supervision because they have all the feelings/perception necessary to do so; a monosentient robot tasked with building a performance stage can test and assess things such as weight tolerance, for example. The bot knows the right place to put the stage, and how to manage its resources so it doesn't run out of power or hurt itself. It will collaborate with other bots, and not plow through any humans while completing its task. But the same bot will never be capable of dismantling said stage. Or doing laundry. Or having a meaningful conversation.
"Sentient" isn't perhaps the best word to use to define this concept, but I liked the ring of it, so it stayed :)
Of course, as you'll see, I love to define concepts only to create conundrums later on in my story!