From: aominux (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jun 19 2002 - 21:52:14 MDT
'Thinking' robot in escape bid
By Dave Higgens
June 20 2002
Scientists running a pioneering experiment with
"living robots" which think for themselves today said
they were amazed to find one escaping from the centre
where it "lives".
The small unit, called Gaak, was one of 12 taking part
in a "survival of the fittest" test at the Magna
science centre in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which
has been running since March.
Gaak made its bid for freedom yesterday after it had
been taken out of the arena where hundreds of visitors
watch the machines learning as they do daily battle
for minor repairs.
Professor Noel Sharkey said he turned his back on the
drone and returned 15 minutes later to find it had
forced its way out of the small make-shift paddock it
was being kept in.
He later found it had travelled down an access slope,
through the front door of the centre and was
eventually discovered at the main entrance to the car
park when a visitor nearly flattened it with his car.
Sharkey said: "Since the experiment went live in March
they have all learned a significant amount and are
becoming more intelligent by the day but the fact that
it had ability to navigate itself out of the building
and along the concrete floor to the gates has
surprised us all."
And he added: "But there's no need to worry, as
although they can escape they are perfectly harmless
and won't be taking over just yet."
Motorist Dan Lowthorpe, 27, from Sheffield, who nearly
prematurely terminated Gaak said: "I have visited
Magna a couple of times in the past but came on this
occasion especially to see the new robots.
"You can imagine how surprised I was when I nearly ran
over one on my way in. I knew the robots interacted
with each but didn't expect to be personally greeted
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