Cybernetics is actually a derivation of the word “Kybernetic” - which was “steersmanship” in the nautical sense.

It is the technology and science of control. In the case of robots, as autonomous machines, it is a critical science to understand, especially the concept of feedback and control.

It is this study that leads scientists to examine the behaviour of something, as opposed to its implementation, and once a behaviour is understood, and broken down, an implementation may become apparent. It borders on animal and human psychology, as well as a little understanding of sensory technology, engineering and similarities with real biology exhibiting the same characteristics. It means you can do high-level behavioural analysis, and then use this to determine the programming.

The University of Reading, England offer a degree, and masters course examining this, with real hands on contact building robots and programming them.