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Biomass-Eating Military Robot Is a Vegetarian, Company Says

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A steam-powered, biomass-eating military robot being designed for the Pentagon is a vegetarian, its maker says.

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.

But, contrary to reports, including one that appeared on, the EATR will not eat animal or human remains.

Dr.  Bob Finkelstein, president of RTI and a cybernetics expert, said the  EATR would be programmed to recognize specific fuel sources and avoid  others.

“If it’s not on the menu, it’s not going to eat it,” Finkelstein said.

“There are certain signatures from different kinds of materials” that would distinguish vegetative biomass from other material."

RTI said Thursday in a press release:

"Despite  the far-reaching reports that this includes “human bodies,” the public  can be assured that the engine Cyclone (Cyclone Power Technologies  Inc.) has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than  twigs, grass clippings and wood chips -- small, plant-based items for  which RTI’s robotic technology is designed to forage. Desecration of  the dead is a war crime under Article 15 of the Geneva Conventions, and  is certainly not something sanctioned by DARPA, Cyclone or RTI."

EATR  will be powered by the Waste Heat Engine developed by Cyclone, 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.

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