A robot's potential advantage in autonomy is limited by its need to constantly refuel, but what if the robot could graze its way through a mission, skipping the gas station and foraging for biomass fuel along the way?
The biologically inspired Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) is designed to do just that--find, ingest and extract energy from biomass throughout its operating environment, and switch to conventional or alternative fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, propane and solar) when needed (see PDF).
Robotic Technology of Potomac, Md., and Cyclone Power Technologies of Pompano Beach, Fla., have completed an initial stage in a collaboration that could lead to the world's first grazing robot. The system would obtain energy by "engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior"--in other words, foraging and eating to keep itself going.
It's a tall order. The robot will need to first identify a suitable biomass (wood, grass, paper, etc.) and avoid the indigestible (rocks, metal, or glass).… Read more