Reports have surfaced of an in-development military robot that will fuel itself by scavenging biomass from its environment. In other words, this “steam-powered robot” will be a forager — self-maintaining, able to “feed” off grass, wood and the biological detritus of war, including corpses. That’s quite a scenario — one that sounds like the makings of a sci-fi horror story. But according to FoxNews this is something that the Pentagon has contracted a Maryland company, Robotic Technology, Inc. to develop.
According to Robotic Technology Inc.’s official website, its Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot —or “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.
Putting aside scenarios of ravenous robotic hordes re-enacting the cannibal zombie apocalypse across a war-torn landscape, the perceived advantages of this scheme are many:
In addition to missions requiring long-range, long-endurance ability, the EATR can provide direct support to combat units without requiring labor or materiel logistics support for refueling. EATR could forage for its own energy while the unit rested or remained in position. EATR, having a heavy-duty robotic arm and hybrid external combustion engine, could provide direct support to combat units by: carrying the unit’s backpacks and other material (the mule function); provide RSTA, weapons, support, casualty extraction, or transport; provide energy to recharge the unit’s batteries or directly power command and control centers.
No, this is not fiction….
In a similar though more domestic development, UK designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau have developed flesh-eating furniture that chows down on flies and other household pests in order to help with the domestic duties:
Note: the image of the carnivorous war machine at the top of this articles aren’t what the real ones look like. Check out Warren Ellis’ site for the more mundane reality.