That's right, the government is working on a robot that eats organic material for fuel.
Fox News is reporting that Robotic Technology Inc., a Maryland company, is under contract with the Pentagon to construct a steam-powered robot that fuels itself by eating organic material, whether it's wood, grass, the neighbor's annoying dog or the actual neighbor himself. That's right, this robot, called EATR (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot), sounds like something ripped straight out of sci-fi horror movies, consuming human flesh to carry out its mission. However, there's nothing fictional about this metal monster, but just don't expect to see something menacing with metal talons or gaping mechanical jaws.
"The purpose of the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) (patent pending) project is to develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling, which would otherwise preclude the ability of the robot to perform such missions," reads the company website. "The system obtains its energy by foraging--engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It 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."
As Fox News pointed out, the robot would serve extremely well for the military, capable of roaming battlefields and other hostile environments for months--or perhaps even for years--without having to be manually refueled or serviced thanks to its unique system. By using the EATR platform, the government could build many useful tools including a mobile unmanned gunner, a roving medical center, a transport, or what could spark a first generation of Terminators that will eventually eat all of mankind.
Robotic Technology plans to commercialize EATR in addition to its contract with the Pentagon. Check out the company's full overview here in PDF format.