We report on the development of a novel industrial process, embodied in a new robotic polishing machine, for automatically grinding an polishing aspheric optics. The machine is targeted at meeting the growing demand for inexpensive axially symmetric but aspherical lenses and mirrors for industry and science, non-axisymmetric and conformal optics of many kinds, the planarization of silicon wafers and associated devices, and for controlling form and texture in other artifacts including prosthetic joints. We describe both the physics and the implementation of the process. It is based on an innovative pressurized tool of variable effective size, spun to give high removal rate. The tool traverse and orientation are orchestrated in a unique (and patented) way to avoid completely the characteristic fast peripheral-velocity and center-zero left by conventional spinning tools. The pressurized tooling supports loose abrasive grinding and polishing, plus a new bound-abrasive grinding process, providing for a wide range of work from coarse profiling to fine polishing and figuring. Finally we discuss the critical control, data handling and software challenges in the implementation of the process, contrast the approach with alternative technologies, and present preliminary results of polishing trials.© (2000) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.