July 15, 2009

"Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies."

Headline.

23 comments:

AllenS said...

Just in time, too. They should be sent immediately to Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago. Seems that there are a lot of dead bodies in the brush.

traditionalguy said...

Eureka! Now we can have a new Supreme Court Justice without empathy.

Scott M said...

Haven't any of these scientists or engineers read Asimov or seen either the Terminator or Matrix movies?

Sheesh...

MadisonMan said...

Robotic Technology presents EATR as an essentially benign artificial creature that fills its belly through "foraging,"

Sure. Until it is struck by lightning and the programming is changed. Then the foraging becomes hunting down humans and killing them.

Hoosier Daddy said...

So what? If its not the robot then its the worms.

Bissage said...

The beauty of these people-eating robots is they crap an especially refined version of soylent green.

Tasty!

MadisonMan said...

It'll be the fire of the crematorium for me. The worms can starve.

Although the way people are buried today -- big caskets sealed inside concrete bunkers -- the worms are starving already.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I don't know if the cannibalism tag fits. Maybe desecration?

But I agree with Scott M's science fiction analogies. I was thinking about some of Frank Herbert's work when I read the story.

Crimso said...

On the bright side, after these things wipe us out the climate will be saved.

Jason: "Destination:Void" (and its "sequels") perhaps?

Scott M said...

@Jason

But I agree with Scott M's science fiction analogies. I was thinking about some of Frank Herbert's work when I read the story.

Absolutely loved Dune, hated the original movie (supposedly a remake in the works), disliked the SyFy version a bit less, and enjoyed each subsequent book in the series through Chapterhouse a bit less. Then, when it couldn't get any dimmer, his son had to come along and ruin it all.

Not that didn't read all six of his son's Dune books too...but still...you can only get so much mileage out of 2D characters.

Jennifer said...

God help you if you're just playing dead. Or nearing death. Or are a Stone.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

A robot that forages for organic matter including bodies.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Absolutely loved Dune, hated the original movie (supposedly a remake in the works), disliked the SyFy version a bit less,

I agree on the original movie (gag) but I thought the Sci-Fi series was remarkably well done. Ian McNeice stole the show with his portrayal of Harkkonen.

knox said...

FRESH BRAINS

Or I guess, not-so-fresh brains.

EDH said...

Flesh-eating zombies say...

"Send more paramedics."

They're tasty.

(Not for the squeamish.)

Kirk Parker said...

No, it would only be cannibalism if it ate dead robots.

Tibore said...

When you read the project overview, it's obvious that the proposed machine still powers itself with a combustion engine. Therefore, the best fuel sources are more homogenized ones that are easily accessible and shreddable, and release acceptible amounts of energy upon combustion.

Now, does that include human bodies? Well... unless the machine's got a shredder the size and power of a wood chipper, I'm not sure it would be cost effective energy-wise. It's possible to figure out the amount of potential combustion energy a human body has (as an aside: Anyone know that bones are not only flammable, but have been used in prehistoric times as a fuel additive for fires? I just now found that out...), but the energy to "render" the human body fit for combustion is the missing element here. If it costs more in watts, ergs, whatever to get a body ready to be burned by the robot's engine, well... it wouldn't be worth it from the robot's point of view.

Anyway, I see that "feed on dead bodies" as an exaggeration at this time. The conversion of raw materials to something that the robot can use for power is the glossed over element here, and it cannot cost more energy to convert a body to fuel than what the robot would get in return.

And besides, as the Matrix taught us, live humans are better used thermal batteries anyway. ;)

Scott M said...

For a made-for-tv mini-series, you're 100% right. Not only did they get the A-list stars needed, but their costume and set design was pretty damned good as well. Tough to do Dune justice in a movie, though, sort of like Watchmen (minus the gigantic dong).

goesh said...

- best wags in the blogsphere, I knew this would be a treat...

rhhardin said...

It will be back to bodies stacked like cordwood in the steam robot days.

Cedarford said...

It is an interesting concept. We are seeing that robotic craft that are self-sustaining on solar can last a long, long time. (See Mars Rovers at 5+ years vs original 90-day warrantee).
A robot with access to a better, more reliable, more concentrated form of energy would be much more active than the weak solar-powered rovers.
It wouldn't be feeding on dead bodies left lying. Other biological scavangers with superb olfactory senses (dogs, crows, buzzards) or rapid reproduction (bacteria, fly maggots) will out-compete robots for that banquet.
What such robots might be very useful for is as highway roadside cleaners or park claeners - consuming garbage grass cuttings brush and tree trimmings. Or forest-maintainers eating up tinder to prevent forest fires.
Far cheaper than humans in that application.

Joe said...

Testiment that once again, anyone with convincing sounding bullshit can get money from idiots in the federal government.

Cedarford said...

Joe said...
Testiment that once again, anyone with convincing sounding bullshit can get money from idiots in the federal government.

NO, testimony that government, DARPA have some people far smarter than yourself that see a compelling need for sponsorship of robotic R&D. And have been championing this in growing focus for over 30 years. Other technologically advanced nations have the same urgency in advancing military and civilian robotic apps. In some areas, Russia and Israel are ahead of us...and the Japanese have capacities beyond them.

Self-fueled stirling cycle steam engine robots capable of weeks or months of mostly autonomous operation would be a big advance in the technology.

The applications to society could be revolutionary. And there are military apps.