Financial Times (London) May 1, 1997, Thursday LONDON EDITION 1 SECTION: TECHNOLOGY; Pg. 22 LENGTH: 158 words HEADLINE: Worth Watching Robots to provide help in a tight spot BODY: Robots to provide help in a tight spot A robot that can help manoeuvre items in tight spaces is being developed to help with tasks ranging from surgery to manufacturing. The collaborative robot or "cobot" runs on wheels but does not have any motive power of its own. It is programmed to stop when it reaches a "virtual surface" or invisible wall, after which it runs parallel to the wall. Researchers at Northwestern University are working with General Motors on a cobot that would help assembly-line workers install instrument panels, which barely fit through the door opening. The virtual surfaces would extend out of the door like an invisible funnel, allowing the worker to push the instrument panel against a virtual surface and slide it into the cab. The researchers are also developing an arm-like version of a cobot for computer-assisted surgery.