Self-fueling robot will 'eat' plants for power

Robotics Technology is developing a robot that consumes biomass, such as plant material, and converts it to electricity to power itself.

Robotics Technology is developing a robot that consumes biomass, such as plant material, and converts it to electricity to power itself. The whimsically-named Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) is intended for jobs where regular, conventional fueling would be impractical, such as military recognizance.

Not surprisingly, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding the research.

The EATR will "forage" for its fuel, "engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating," according to a recently-released Robotics Technology brief. "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."

No one is saying when the robots will be available, and since they are merely beginning research, who knows if they ever will be. The brief refers, in the future tense, to an "initial proof-of-concept demonstration [that] will focus on the ability of the EATR to recognize biomass sources of energy from non-energy materials, properly manipulate and ingest the biomass materials into the engine system, and generate electrical power to operate the various subsystems."

With an idea like this, it's natural to look at science fiction of the most whimsical sort for analogies. I found myself thinking of Bender, the alcohol-fueled, and apparently alcoholic, robot from the animated sitcom Futurama. Hopefully these robots will be a bit more productive.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags robotics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

The Industry Standard
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?