EATR, short for Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, is currently being developed by
Cyclone Power Technologies (CPT) and heavily funded by our government via the DARPA research lab. Being built as a fully autonomous, long-endurance drone robot meant for long term scouting missions behind enemy lines, the EATR features a unique approach to the idea of refueling and quite frankly, an approach that scares the piss out of us. We'll let CPT explain how the system would work with their semi-sane description and then we'll give you our scenario;
"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 patent pending robotic system can find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment, as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, propane and solar) when suitable."
In theory, this idea sounds fantastic and starts to remind us slightly of the Mr. Fusion device on that Doc Brown had installed on the Delorean in Back to the Future II. But that slight glimmer of revolutionizing hope quickly fades when we recall another one of our favorite sci-fi movies, The Matrix or maybe even the more recent Terminator: Salvation. You see, allowing autonomous robotic drones to roam free slurping up whatever kind of waste byproduct they want will initially prove to be quite successful. Feeding their steam-driven 'biomass furnace,' six-cylinder, 16-horsepower Waste Heat Engine (WHE) for the first couple of iterations will be simple. They'll be small, light and nimble, requiring only small bits of refuse and small foliage. At this point it doesn't seem so bad.
That's when it all changes. The need for larger, more powerful EATR drones will necessitate a larger so-called appetite. So where does it go from there? In a battlefield, that means that it'll find plenty of dead bodies of both animal and human nature, large trees, etc. Now CPT wouldn't want to limit the EATR's capabilities so it's also built in the ability to run on standard fuels such as gasoline, diesel and ethanol. Equipped with large articulating arms, the EATR will be able to use its artificial intelligence to seek out these fuel sources whether they are located in a fuel pumping station or just by forcibly removing it from a passing motorists car. After all, EATR will also be armed, so who's gonna say no to a fuel sipping autonomous robot that wants your gas?
We think you see where this is going and if you don't then you need to spend a few hours catching up on a few movies over the next couple of days. Call us skeptical, call us paranoid, but don't say we didn't warn you when you're being chased down the street, fearing for your life because Wall-E is hungry.
From the Cyclone Power Technologies Press Release:
Cyclone Power Successfully Completes
First Stage of Robotic Technology Project
POMPANO BEACH, FL, July 7, 2009. Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets: CYPW)
announced today that it has completed the first stage of its project with Robotic Technology Inc.
(RTI), of Potomac, MD, to develop a beta biomass engine system used to power RTI's Energetically
Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR™). This is a Phase II SBIR project sponsored by the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Sciences Office.
In this first stage Cyclone successfully coupled its proprietary steam generator with a compact
biomass furnace to be used with the prototype EATR, and produced sufficient steam to power
Cyclone's six-cylinder, 16HP Waste Heat Engine (WHE). With the completion of this stage, RTI has
paid Cyclone a total of $50,000 in development fees. Cyclone will now proceed to attaching the
WHE to this heat source and commence system performance testing with the goal of delivering a
complete beta system to RTI in the next 90 days.
RTI's 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 patent pending robotic
system can find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment, as well as use
conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, propane and solar) when suitable.
"We are excited and encouraged by Cyclone's progress," stated Dr. Robert Finkelstein, President
of RTI. "Cyclone's technology is ideal for our robotic vehicle to perform a wide range of either
military or civilian tasks. The potential commercial applications are enormous for biomasspowered
equipment and vehicles."
Cyclone Power Technologies is the developer of the award-winning Cyclone Engine – an eco-friendly external
combustion engine with the power and versatility to run everything from portable electric generators and garden
equipment to cars, trucks and locomotives. Invented by company founder and CEO Harry Schoell, the patented
Cyclone Engine is a modern day steam engine, ingeniously designed to achieve high thermal efficiencies through a
compact heat-regenerative process, and to run on virtually any fuel - including bio-diesels, syngas or solar - while
emitting fewer greenhouse gases and irritating pollutants into the air. Currently in its late stages of development, the
Cyclone Engine was recognized by Popular Science Magazine as the Invention of the Year for 2008, and was presented
with the Society of Automotive Engineers' AEI Tech Award in 2006 and 2008. Additionally, Cyclone was recently
named Environmental Business of the Year by the Broward County Environmental Protection Department. For more
information, visit www.cyclonepower.com.