Thursday, June 24, 2010


Robots are everywhere nowadays. They prowl the skies over Afghanistan and Pakistan, delivering sudden death to our enemies. They are attempting, however ineptly, to repair the horrific oil well blowout that is fouling the Gulf of Mexico. They disarm bombs, perform surgery deep inside the body, and uncomplainingly do many other jobs too dangerous for humans.

And they're getting better all the time.

A new and interesting robot is discussed in this interesting article from The Economist: Munching Machines.

Yes, friends, a new robot called EATR - the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot - is being developed for the US Army. It is unique because it doesn't need gasoline, batteries, or solar panels...rather, it derives its power by eating its way along. The EATR forages for grass, dead wood, and other "biomass" along its route, gathers it in with a robotic arm, and uses it as fuel to drive its internal steam engine. How does it know what to eat? Image-recognition software linked to a laser and camera lets the EATR recognize edible plants, leaves and wood (and it can also, if necessary, run on gasoline, diesel fuel, cooking oil, or any similar organic matter). EATR's developer estimates that about 150 pounds of vegetation would provide enough electricity for the machine to travel around 100 miles. And it doesn't need a salary and benefits! How cool is that?

Robots have certainly come a long way from the days of Maria,


And Gort,

But lest we forget, robots can be very dangerous...and those of us like Mike, John, and I, who are approaching the superannuation watershed, need to take appropriate measures...

You have been warned!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



John said...

uh, right.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Suddenly I'm thinking about Cybermen!

Mike said...

So these EATR's have condensing units to recycle their water. So to defeat them we need to overwhelm their condensing unit. I KNEW someday I could find a reason to buy a flame thrower.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Maria from Metropolis was a memorable one. Nowadays, the Skynet machines from 'Terminator' are the rulers!