Will self-sustaining military robots feed on corpses?


There’s always a story behind the story.

The Economist magazine this week points to an online story with the headline: Vegetarian robots: Munching machines – Robots that forage for fuel and run on steam power.

I was most interested in the description given of robots that sustained themselves by searching for fuel, but I also wondered why it specified ‘vegetarian’ robots. So I searched for EATR (the acronym for the robots) and found a great story about how the original story was that the robots could eat biomass, including dead human bodies. This video tells the story.

In short, Fox News released a story with the headline: Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies.

It then quickly changed the story for the lede to read: A steam-powered, biomass-eating military robot being designed for the Pentagon is a vegetarian, its maker says. CNET also tells the story of the “clarification” from the manufacturer.

Certainly the idea of a robot that finds its own fuel so it can run indefinitely is a compelling one, and in fact essential for any sustainable device. In some military environments human bodies may be the best energy sources available. I doubt that was the design intent of the robot, but it does make for a nice conspiracy story… :-)

By the way, I love the firearms training program advertised at the end of the video, including free handgun!