[FoRK] Robot Feeds on Dead Bodies

Lucas Gonze lucas.gonze at gmail.com
Tue Jul 14 19:02:36 PDT 2009


 It could be a combination of 19th-century mechanics, 21st-century
technology — and a 20th-century horror movie.

A Maryland company under contract to the Pentagon is working on a
steam-powered robot that would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever
organic material it can find — grass, wood, old furniture, even dead

Robotic Technology Inc.'s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot —
that's right, "EATR" — "can find, ingest, and extract energy from
biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy
sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as
gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil,
and solar) when suitable," reads the company's Web site.

That "biomass" and "other organically-based energy sources" wouldn't
necessarily be limited to plant material — animal and human corpses
contain plenty of energy, and they'd be plentiful in a war zone.

EATR will be powered by the Waste Heat Engine developed by Cyclone
Power Technology of Pompano Beach, Fla., which uses an "external
combustion chamber" burning up fuel to heat up water in a closed loop,
generating electricity.

The advantages to the military are that the robot would be extremely
flexible in fuel sources and could roam on its own for months, even
years, without having to be refueled or serviced.

Upon the EATR platform, the Pentagon could build all sorts of things —
a transport, an ambulance, a communications center, even a mobile

In press materials, Robotic Technology presents EATR as an essentially
benign artificial creature that fills its belly through "foraging,"
despite the obvious military purpose.

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