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Robot toddles to the Hill to plead for more R&D

''Meet a constituent,'' said Sen. Donald Riegle Jr. (D) of Michigan, introducing Hero 1, a one-armed robot. Hero asked a Senate subcommittee in its electronic monotone Thursday to finance industrial research and showed off a bit by singing a verse of ''Happy Birthday.''

''Does he vote?'' Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey asked as subcommittee members clustered around Hero to accept a copy of testimony it offered in its extended arm.

Hero is a Riegle constituent since it was produced by a Benton Harbor, Mich., company. Senators said it was the first time a robot used its own voice to testify before Congress.

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