close this bookVolume 2: No. 50
View the documentNews -- research news
View the documentNews -- international issues
View the documentNews -- new technology
View the documentNews -- conferences
View the documentNews -- job openings
View the documentResources -- artificial life; hobby robotics
View the documentResources -- consumer software
View the documentComputists -- John McInerney, Kim Tracy, Avron Barr

Eden is a Poplog-based AI microworld from the Oxford University AI Society, Imperial College. You can use genetic algorithms, neural nets, rule-based systems, or other code (Pop-11, Prolog, Lisp, ML, etc.) to control your "bug" in a 2-D Ved window. Chests (in some worlds) hide resources; keys open doors; hammers remove rocks. Watch out for the quicksand! You start over with a new or modified bug (and the same or a different world, at your code's option) every time your bug dies or reaches food. Send your source code to the international competition by 5/1/93 if you think you're good enough. Hard-wired bugs can compete, but Stage Three of the contest introduces new objects that must be learned by experiment. Winners will be described in the Poplog Newsletter and made available in the Eden FTP archive. You can FTP the Eden/Popbeast AI Competition and Teaching Kit from eden.tar.Z in computing/programming/languages/prolog/pd-software (or packages/prolog-pd-software) on ( [Jocelyn Paine (,, 12/1.] (It would be fun to develop a stratego or chess game this way, with each piece having intelligence.)

Want to program software robots to fight against other robots in virtual spaces? PROBOTS and CROBOTS are two flavors of code. Check with the newsgroup on Usenet. [George Bragg (,, 10/21.] CROBOTS live in a 1000 by 1000 text-graphics grid. You move them with drive(angle,speed), seek targets with scan(angle,width), fire cannon(angle,distance), and check yourself for damage(). [Glenn Durden (, 10/23.] The program is probably available from SIMTEL or the mirror at, with a $20 shareware fee. It's a slick little program. [John Hughes (, 10/24.]

Issue 90 of Alife Digest describes a "Creatures" simulation package for NeXT. Contact to subscribe. A tech-report depository is in ftp/pub/alife on ( [Jeff Peck (]

John R. Koza's new book and one-hour videotape on genetic programming are available from MIT Press. "Genetic Programming: On the Programming of Computers by Means of Natural Selection," 840 pp., $55. "Genetic Programming: The Movie," with James P. Rice, illustrates 22 problems from the book. VHS NTSC ($34.95), PAL ($44.95), or SECAM ($44.95). (800) 326-4471 or (617) 625-8569. [, connectionists, 11/15.]

JPL has demonstrated a small robot which moves through outdoor rough terrain to a specified location, collects a soil sample, returns to a mock-up lander, and deposits the sample in a box. It operates under about 6 KB of subsumption-like ALFA code. See Erann Gat's paper in IEEE ICRA91. [, comp.robotics, 11/20.]

A 10/26/90 article in JPL Universe tells of an autonomous vehicle traversing 100 meters of unmapped rugged arroyo terrain in 4 hours and 20 minutes. "Robby" used stereo to build a 3-D map, then planned a route and advanced two meters at a time. Experimenters were working toward 20 km/day. [Ron Baalke (, comp.robotics, 11/23.]

The MIT Robot Builders Guide is in pub/6270/docs on ( [Fred Martin (, comp.robotics, 12/3.]

Need an alternative to Radio Shack? The 1993 Allied catalog will be mailed out 1/4. Call (800) 433-5700 or write to Allied Electronics, Inc., Attn: Catalog Dept., 7410 Pebble Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76118-6997. [EE Times, 11/16.]

Anya L. Simons has been checking out fuzzy software for real-time robotic control with a Motorola HC11. He'd appreciate any advice. Results so far: Hamilton/Avnet's C development package is $1495, converts directly for the MC68HC11EVM board, and is blessed by Motorola. Togai's Fuzzy C development package for universities is $1150 (plus $500 for an HC11). Their HC11 code is just out, but still officially in development. Hyperlogic's Cubicalc offers no university discount. CBC-1503 with run-time source for Turbo C and Windows 3.0 is $2450, and seems to be mostly "cutesy graphics." On the neural-net side, Intel offers a university price of $8K for software to go with their $470 neural chip. Hyperlogic sells an OWL neural C library for $3K. [vy0112@bingvaxa.bitnet, Neuron Digest, 11/28.]

John Schuch ( asked the comp.robotics newsgroup (12/2) about publications for hobby-level robotics, and whether there is a market for one. Kevin Dowling ( says there was a Robotics Age publication from 1979-86, but it died out shortly after changing its name to Robotics Engineering. Now there's a newsletter called Robot Explorer, but now magazine other than Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, trade magazines, and academic journals. There's also a newsy, high-level magazine from the Assoc. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems. Chuck McManis ( mentions Computer Craft, Radio Electronics (merged with Electronics Now), Computer Applications Journal (formerly Circuit Cellar Ink), Sensors, and Embedded Systems. The latter two are free to qualified subscribers. Chuck would like to see a mail-order source of parts as well as a hobby robotics magazine.

Clint Laskowski is closing out his 1992 start-up, Robotic Systems, Inc. Clint was developing low-cost, expandable, programmable, mobile robots similar to the now defunct HERO. He believes there's a market, but couldn't raise capital. He is also frustrated at the lack of any effective organization serving mobile robotics, and is willing to help organize one. (He posted a Mobile Robot Survey earlier this year, and he's seeing many start-ups fail. An organization might help.) National Service Robot Association and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems "are not doing the job" at the hobby level. [, comp.robotics, 12/4.]