29 January 2009

The Age of Sustainable Machines from DARPA

A new type of autonomous robot will soon be loosed upon the land. A robot that forages, grazing on weeds and shrubbery, on rotten logs -- even on dried out roadkill and other carcasses. This is DARPA's EATR (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot), by RTI. It will be fueled by the Cyclone external combustion engine that can run on virtually any type of dry carbonaceous material.
The EATR is an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance military missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling. The system is designed to obtain its energy by foraging—engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating.

The patent pending robotic system 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.

...RTI calculates that about 3-12 lbs of dry vegetation (wood or plants) used as fuel in the Cyclone will produces 1 kWh. This equates to 2-8 miles driving, or more than 80 hours of standby, or 6-75 hours of mission operations (depending on power draw and duty cycle) before EATR would need to forage, process and generate/store power again. About 150 lbs of vegetation could provide sufficient energy for 100 miles of driving. _GCC
We humans long prided ourselves as being at the top of the food chain. But soon we may find ourselves considered prey by robotic predators capable of "living" on dried human flesh. Potentially as tough as an Abrams tank, autonomous robotic grazers and predators might be extremely difficult to stop.

Consider an entire society of autonomous machines, taught to feed themselves using anything that is near to grasper. Watch them cooperate with each other to subdue all potential threats on land, sea, and air. They consider using solar energy, but the sun only shines so many hours a week. These machines have places to go and people to eat. They don't have time to sit around idle waiting for the sun to come out.

Perhaps eventually they learn to breed humans in huge farms. The machines learn to tap humans' electrical energy -- like batteries. Stacked thousands of energy-pods high, unconscious humans lie in nutrient solution, energy-tapped for as long as they produce a charge, then after becoming non-productive, flushed back into the primordial solution to begin again. What dreams pass through the unconscious minds of these once-ascendant primates, lying in their flooded pods?

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Blogger Loren said...

ZOIDS! You has teh awesomeness!

As long as there's a human in the production cycle, their numbers are limited. And Abrams aren't actually all that tough when you start looking at modern anti-tank equipment.

Thursday, 29 January, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Sounds like the Sarah Conner Chronicles.

Friday, 30 January, 2009  

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