Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies
Wednesday, July 15, 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 bodies.
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 gunship.
In press materials, Robotic Technology presents EATR as an essentially benign artificial creature that fills its belly through "foraging," despite the obvious military purpose.
Now, this sounded like a hoax except I went to their website and they do exist. Were funded by a SBA loan in 2003..... this is not a big company. I'm picturing Harold and Kumar sitting around smoking a fat one watching "The Wild Wild West" and getting an idea that apparently didn't setoff the bull hockey detectors in Washington.
I could help them with their design. Instead of using ugly materials like lead or DU for bullets, they could have a steam powered gun firing tubers they uncover in the field like ... potatoes. Other models could use indigenious stones fired from a large elastomer powered catapult.... or maybe we could scale down a steam model from aircraft carriers - somebody call the Navy.
Like someone else in this thread said, once the technology is perfected you could adapt it to not only military vehicles but civilian as well.
Would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever organic material it can find — >grass, wood, old furniture, even dead bodies.
The new Goverment Motors ad: Trade in your clunker and get the new "Soylent Green Ground Pounder" and a big tax credit. Runs like a dragster on all that junk left over from your last garage sale. No more gas, just pick up trash from the side of the road - Keep America Beautiful. Lawn care implements available and it makes those grass clippings and fall leaves vanish. Still live on a farm? You can get to town and back on a bucket of corn or oats... just like the ole days.
I've discovered a few flaws in the design already:
Some robots won't stop fueling up to go on a mission (fat boy chassis)
Easily defeated by a goat on a lead rope with an IED underneath it
Not stealthy - sounds like a freight train
Smells like fried chicken or a Happy Meal from a mile away
Won't work in North Korea - nothing to eat there
Can't tell a Taliban from a friendly man so it eats everybody in the village
We could use a few of these killer bots in Oklahoma if they could be programmed just to go after possums, armadillos, killer bees, and I assume there will an aquatic version which could be trained to eat zebra mussels, carp and gar. When it wasn't football season, you could turn a few loose around a herd of those feral hogs I've been hearing about and televise it from a helicopter.... I know, I'm just rambling now.