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"Science fiction is what scientists would do if they could - if they had enough grant money, enough time, and enough brains to do the wonderful things they would like to do."
- Greg Bear

Sensitive Robot Fingers  
  Special sensory capabilities of robotic appendages.  

We had gone no more than a hundred feet or so when Migul [the robot] slowed our pace, and began to walk stooped over, with one of its abnormally long arms held close to the ground. The fingers were stiffly outstretched and barely skimmed the floor surface of the tunnel. As we passed through a spot of light I saw that Migul had extended from each of the fingertips an inch-long filament of wire, like finger nails.

The Robot murmured abruptly, "Tugh's vibrations are here. I can feel them. He has passed this way recently."

Tugh's trail! I knew then that Tugh's body, touching this ground, had altered to some infinitesimal degree the floor-substance's inherent vibration characteristics. Vibrations of every sort are communicable from one substance to another. Tugh's trail was here--his vibration-scent--and like a hound with his nose to the ground, Migul's fingers with the extended filaments were feeling it. What strange sensitivity! What an amazing development of science was manifested in every move and act and word of this Robot! Yet, in my own Time-world of 1935, it was all crudely presaged: this now before me was merely the culmination.

"He recently passed," said Migul. We stopped, I close beside the stooping metal figure. The Robot's voice was a furtive sepulchral whisper that filled me with awe.

"How long ago?" I asked.

"He passed here an hour or two ago, perhaps. The vibrations are fading out. But it was Tugh. Well do I know him. Put your hand down. Feel the vibrations?"

"I cannot. My fingers are not that sensitive, Migul."

A faint contempt was in the Robot's tone. "I forgot that you are a man." Then it straightened, and the extended filaments slid back into its fingers. It said softly, "There is one guard in this passage."

From The Exile of Time, by Ray Cummings.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Compare to the chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues from This Immortal (1966) by Roger Zelazny.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Exile of Time
  More Ideas and Technology by Ray Cummings
  Tech news articles related to The Exile of Time
  Tech news articles related to works by Ray Cummings

Sensitive Robot Fingers-related news articles:
  - Robotic Hand Has Sensitive Fingertips
  - BioTac Robot's Finger More Sensitive Than Yours
  - Artificial 'Hairs' To Enhance Senses Of Robots

Articles related to Robotics
Drywall Robot Looking For Sheetrock
Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
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IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter

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