… but that is not our mission.”

Right. Except for this robot that powers itself by scooping up … well, just look. ….

There hasn’t been such a scare over the future of green since Soylent Green. But a DARPA-funded robot that forages for biomass will only consume plant matter, as opposed to dead bodies or wayward pets, its creators assure us.

The makers of the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) have issued a statement saying that “this robot is strictly vegetarian,” after news outlets ranging from Fox News to CNET pounced on the flesh-eating potential of the bot.

Click here to read all about the robot. Which, incidentally, is called “EATR.”

Hat Tip: Rob L.


  1. #1 BruceH
    July 31, 2009

    I wonder if it likes its baby meat grilled or raw.

  2. #2 Jason Thibeault
    July 31, 2009

    When people talk to me about being a vegetarian, I say, “look. Biomass is biomass. Everything you’re eating, whether it’s carrots or cow or grass or chicken or bacterial cultures like yogourt or cheese, is biomass, and if it wasn’t biomass, it isn’t digestible. I’d like to see you avoid harming life and stay alive yourself for any length of time.”

    Seeing this, my stock rant for “vegetarians” is equally valid. If vegetables can fuel the EATR, then so can the bodies of the victims it just blew away.

    Scary that all you have to do is throw enough money into military advancement, and eventually you can dispose of your enemies in a fuel-efficient and safe manner (for your country’s inhabitants, anyway). Just build one kill-bot and it’ll run in perpetuity, killing your enemies then harvesting them for the fuel it needs to kill even more.

  3. #3 José
    July 31, 2009
  4. #4 MadScientist
    August 1, 2009

    The Mathematical Analyzer Numeric Integrator And Computer used towards the end of the Manhattan Project is still one of my favorites.

  5. #5 John Swindle
    August 1, 2009

    I’ve been a vegetarian for about forty years. Judging from his rant, I bet Jason has run into some mouthy vegetarians who seemed to need to be realigned with reality. I’ve known some of those, too. Over these four decades, my reasons for maintaining my vejjy diet have changed a few times. It isn’t solely about the sanctity of life. And,it makes my cardiologist happy.

    Any way, the only reason I can think of to build these bots as herbivores is P.R. Try as we might to dehumanise an enemy, the public is never going to approve of a machine that eats people. That might be a too-optimistic outlook, considering some of the dumb shit we’ve seen people do, but I bet the squick factor was considered in planning how these things would be fueled.

  6. #6 Jason Thibeault
    August 1, 2009

    John: yep. It’s my stock rant for when people proselytize at me with that old line, “don’t eat meat, it’s muuuuuuurder”. I have no problems with you choosing not to eat meat, it’s a valid choice, whether it’s for health reasons or because you can’t countenance eating what was once an animal, or because you disagree with the methods of raising said animals, it’s all good.

    I certainly hope there’s some real tangible limitation that prevents it from even being able to use anything but plant biomass, though I have my doubts. What happens if it picks up a blade of grass with an ant on it? Does the ant get tossed out the side vent? Or does it get burned too?

  7. #7 travc
    August 1, 2009

    Years back I had a very interesting conversation with some folks regarding how to design and build autonomous slug-eating robots… really, they were serious. Slugs are a real agricultural pest, and the idea was to have robots go around an orchard collecting slugs. Where it got really interesting was organizing the robots as a colony and allowing the robots to evolve (behaviourally at least).

    The “queen” of the colony would have been a big stationary fermentation machine… turning slugs into electricity (augmented if needed by line or solar power). It would power up the “workers” based on how many slugs they brought back. Evolution/adaptation is achieved by allowing the queen to reprogram less successful workers with mutated code from more successful ones when they come back for charging. Workers could also rescue other workers who have run out of (or low on) power by sharing some of their own power, and reprogram them in the process.

    Sounded cool and actually doable, but there was one major problem… From the POV of the robots, the more slugs available the better. It would only be a matter of time before they figured out how to cultivate slugs, kind of defeating the intent of the system.

    Long story short… Instead of Soylent Green, I think “To Serve Man” is a better reference 😉

  8. #8 clare
    June 20, 2011

    phew! lol