In the dark void of the National Newspaper Building, the robots are afoot. Towering 20 metres high and stretching far into the distance is an imposing expanse of racks, heaving with trays bearing volume upon volume of newspapers, laid flat and strapped between metal sheets. Suddenly, an enormous autonomous crane zooms forwards, stops abruptly and, with a hydraulic gasp, shoots out an arm. Lifting a large metal tray off the scaffold, it deposits it on a conveyor belt and races into the dark. One of three poised for action, it lurks in the gloom, awaiting a command – robots, after all, don’t need the lights on. The tray and its heavy load are whisked away, making a swift right angle at a turntable, and exit through an airlock. A driverless shuttle car then speeds it to a workstation. Somewhere out there a researcher has put in a request, and the machines are on the case.