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USC offers a "really cool" robot demo via Mosaic or WWW forms-capable clients. Connect to http://www.usc.edu/dept/raiders and move a real robot arm to excavate buried artifacts (using bursts of air). [Carl Sutter (sutter@calvin.usc.edu), c.i.www.users, 9/7/94. James Cerny and Roy Turner (rmt@bronte.cs.unh.edu).] (Roy had trouble connecting during peak hours.)

An MIT student has programmed a robotic arm for virtual-reality force feedback against an operator's fingertip. 13 "Phantoms" have been sold at $19,500 each, with Interval Research buying four. Comparable systems sell for $200K. [WSJ, 8/23/94, B1. EDUPAGE.]

"Robots, wanderers, and spiders" are listed and described on http://web.nexor.co.uk/mak/doc/robots/robots.html. [Michael N. Huhns (huhns@mcc.com), DAI-List, 9/16/94. Roy Turner.]

David Hinkle at Lockheed's AI Center says the Nomad 200 mobile robot has proven robust and reliable. The base is stable, powerful, and has a strong bumper with two rings of sonar or infrared sensors. Its laser range finder, on an independent turret axis, is accurate to 1/10 inch. A manipulator arm is available, and high-level software kits and a good simulator simplify programming. "Just because something works on a simulator doesn't mean that it will work on real hardware. But if it doesn't work on a simulator, it definitely won't work on the hardware." [hinkle@rdd.lmsc.lockheed.com, comp.robotics, 9/6/94.]

Kurt Konolige demo'd SRI's Flakey robot on the Scientific American science TV show. Flakey accepted several continuous- speech spoken commands from Alan Alda without training (probably using SRI's DECIPHER system). It also learned offices by exploring and being told whose they were, and showed initiative and reasoning in tracking down a person to get a document. That segment was followed by a "mindblowing" video of artificial-life critters that Karl Sims evolved to swim and walk. [Bill Park (park@netcom.com), 10/8/94.]