July 19, 2009
Yup. Probably one of the greatest headlines ever, and a wonderfully surreal PR nightmare.
Depending which neck of the interwoods you lurk in, you may have heard of a self-powered battlefield robot that would power itself by ingesting biomass – including dead bodies. (Which made me wonder, what if you’re not dead? And wake up to find a robot has eaten half your leg…)
In any case. The robot’s makers are taking steps to reassure people that they have been misinformed.
RTIâ€™s patent pending robotic system will be able to find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment. Despite the far-reaching reports that this includes â€œhuman bodies,â€ the public can be assured that the engine Cyclone has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips â€“ small, plant-based items for which RTIâ€™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.
Which I guess is more reassuring than the alternative.
Oh, and, what a difference a sunny day makes, eh?