News In Brief

DUST THE KNICKKNACKS TOO

For those who detest vacuuming, scientists at City University in Hong Kong may have the ideal solution. They've designed "robot maid," a contraption that can clean floors - even under the bed. But the scientists don't expect their invention to replace domestic helpers, if only because the robots have no child-care skills and can't cook. And then there's the price: not exactly a bargain at $6,500 each. One scientist said he expects the main customers to be companies with large floor spaces. "Imagine having a robot running around in your home," he said. "The idea would be pretty scary to most people."

DON'T TREAD ON ME!

Meanwhile, in mainland China, researchers at Harbin Engineering University have designed a carpet that, with the help of fiber-optic sensors, secretly photographs anyone who walks on it. Computer software could then decide whether that person was an intruder - in which case the system would trigger an alarm.

'Fill 'er up' means emptying the wallet in some US cities

Important pipelines broke in March and earlier this month, depriving the upper Midwest of critical supplies. Taxes on gasoline in Chicago total more than 50 cents a gallon. These and other factors, the petroleum industry says, help explain why prices at the pump already are above $2 a gallon in some cities and headed higher. The Great Lakes region now leads the nation in the cost of gasoline at the pump, surpassing even Hawaii, the normal front-runner. Prices per gallon (including all taxes) this month in selected US cities, according to a survey of 60,000 stations by the American Automobile Association:

Chicago $2.13

Milwaukee 2.03

Detroit 2.00

San Francisco 1.89

New York 1.72

Cincinnati 1.65

Boston 1.64

Seattle 1.60

Denver 1.57

Houston 1.54

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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