The Pentagon has contracted a Maryland company to develop a robot that powers itself with organic material. Intended to be deployed in war zones, the robot would use that biomass to drive a steam engine. Moving through the battlefield, the hungry 'bot would gobble up "whatever organic material it can find," says a report from Fox News. That includes grass, wood, old furniture — even
dead bodies twigs.
Here's the report:
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. (The developer of the EATR later said this assertion from Fox News was an exaggeration. See Update below.)
Sounds like a totally logical and practical idea. We can't think of anything that could go wrong with it.
UPDATE: The company developing the EATR robot made a statement on Friday, July 17, that the robot would not use corpses for fuel. Apparently, it would feast on nothing more than "twigs, grass clippings and wood chips." Still terrifying if you're a horticulturalist.