Yes, you can learn a lot of robotics without actual hardware. I develop software for self-driving vehicles, and spend 95% of my time away from the hardware!
If you want to explore perception and computer vision, take a look at OpenCV ( http://opencv.org/ ) and the tutorials there. The great thing about computer vision is you can run your software against the standard research sets or images you pull off Flickr.
Point Cloud Library is a nice package for looking at 3D laser data (but has some numerical quirks): http://pointclouds.org/
I would definitely take a look at some MOOCs, Andrew Ng's Machine Learning at Coursea (https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning) or the MIT Courseware ( http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/ele... )