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“Sorry, I was hungry,” it says.

January 29, 2009 · · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Science, Uncategorized 

Robotic Technology Inc. has won a DARPA contract to build the EATR (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot)… an autonomous robot that “hunts” for “food” when it needs energy… What could go wrong?

The purpose of EATR is to develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling – in other words it needs to “eat.”

According to researchers, the EATR system gets its energy by foraging, or what the firms describe as “engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.”

I can see it now: One day you walk out to start you car only to find this robot sucking your tank dry. “Sorry, I was hungry,” it says.”

While this is very interesting, even more interesting is the power-plant at the heart of this thing, the Cyclone.

In Phase I, Cyclone will build and deliver within six months the engine with a biomass combustion chamber for demonstration purposes. Cyclone believes that its radial six-cylinder, 16HP Waste Heat Engine (WHE) system is ideally suited for this application. In Phase II, Cyclone would build and deliver the biomass trimmer/gatherer and feeder system to work with its engine power source.

Cyclone likens its engine to a modern day steam engine, 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.”

“Cyclone brings to this project one of the most advanced external combustion engine technologies we have seen,” stated Dr. Robert Finkelstein, President of RTI in a release. “In terms of power-to-size ratio, scalability and fuel flexibility, the Cyclone engine is ideal for a self-sustaining, autonomous intelligent robotic vehicle designed for unique military or civil applications.”

I’ll be baak.

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