from the early-"engineering-AI" dept.
EddieWehri writes "Researchers developed a computer program that came up with designs for simple robots after being given simple parameters. Found on slashdot. http://www.canoe.ca/CNEWSScience 0008/30_robot.html" RalphMerkle explains that this refers to "recent work at Brandeis by Jordan Pollack. Evidently, this work involves a design system that uses evolutionary algorithms to design a robotic system."
Update: A spate of press coverage of this research was set off by the publication of a paper by Pollack and co-worker Hod Lipson, also of Brandeis, in the 31 August 2000 issue of Nature. Some interesting press accounts include articles in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.