In Brief

If You Thought Photo-radar Was Bad

The British government is considering a compulsory implementation of an electronic speed regulator for cars that would use satellite signals to stop cars that go over the speed limit. Researchers as Leeds University have developed a prototype speed control car that uses global positioning satellites to pinpoint the vehicle’s location. A digital map onboard the vehicle then tells the car when it is exceeding the speed limit, prompting it to choke the fuel supply. Safety campaigners say the o200 device would cut road deaths by up to two-thirds. A decision to use the device is expected to be unpopular.

Personal Robots Could Help Sick, Elderly

Engineers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania have created a new generation of robots designed to assist the elderly or ill. Flo the robot nurse can remind people to take medications as well as regularly check vital signs and send the information by e-mail to a doctor. Flo is an early prototype, and the engineers hope to have later versions that can open jars and bottles for arthritis patients.

Canadian Firm Saves Frogs’ Lives

In an effort to reduce the angst of children in science classes, Digital Frog International has created “frog-friendly” software. The family-owned company operates out of a converted barn in Puslinch, Ont., surrounded by “frogs, dogs and bogs,” according to the Web site at Digital Frog allows kids to dissect a frog interactively on a computer along with a video of a real dissection, plus three-dimensional anatomy lessons. The company hopes that faint-hearted students will learn better without the smell of formaldehyde and the guilt of killing an animal. The PC software requirements are a mere 386/25MHz with 8MB RAM, although a Pentium with 16MB RAM is recommended. It is also available for Mac.