The Alabama Department of Public Safety now offers computerized driver's license tests to the hearing-impaired. Instead of watching a videotape and taking a paper test, applicants use kiosks to pause the test, have questions repeated and alternate between a text and sign-language version of the test.

The Navy plans to build an $8.4 million research center in Florida for unmanned vehicles and systems that operate in the air, on the ground and at sea. The Jacksonville-based Haskell Co. received a $10 million contract to design, build and provide five years of maintenance for the warfare research complex. -- USA Today

Georgia agencies are developing a Web-based emergency alert system for use by key state agricultural agencies in a crisis, such as an animal disease outbreak or contamination of the state's food supply. CHAIN-EMN is a secure, two-way communication and alert reporting system that can rapidly disseminate information via a range of devices, such as telephones, PCs, PDAs and cell phones.

The Idaho Department of Agriculture partnered with the state of Washington's Department of Ecology to provide a field burning forecast for Northern Idaho and Washington on television. The forecast provides information on counties where field burning is likely to occur and how weather patterns may affect residents. The information also appears on the Web site.

Staff from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' Office of Public Health developed a "Healthier Cajun Cooking" link on the department's Web site, which offers healthier versions of traditional Louisiana dishes. Site visitors can "Ask The Nutritionist" to analyze their recipes for fat, carbs, sodium, protein, cholesterol and fiber.

By next summer, New Hampshire transportation officials say motorists will be able to avoid traffic jams on Interstate 93 between Salem and Manchester. The state plans to install cameras, sensors and other gadgets to relay information about traffic speed, weather, road conditions, accidents and construction. -- USA Today

The University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center began a demonstration project to determine the economic viability and environmental advantage of generating power using a 30-kilowatt microturbine fueled with sour (impure) natural gas often produced with oil. Thirty kilowatts is enough to supply power to about six to 10 homes. The turbine can potentially produce 300 kilowatts. Researchers hope to generate on-site power for oil recovery while reducing emissions.

Washington, D.C., students can view nesting ospreys via a Webcam located under the Frederick Douglass Bridge. Neval Thomas Elementary School students collaborated with the environmental group Earth Conservation Corps on the education and video project. -- washingtonpost.com

Miriam Jones  |  Chief Copy Editor