Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/20/eatr_veggie/

US tactical bot has no taste for humans

Biomass-fed EATR 'strictly vegetarian'

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 20th July 2009 18:04 GMT

Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. has denied suggestions that its biomass-fuelled engine, installed in the the sinister, DARPA-funded "Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot" (or EATR) will be powered by humans, either dead or alive.

EATR, manufactured by Robotic Technology Inc (RTI), is described as "an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance military missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fuelling". It is designed to "extract energy from biomass in the environment, as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, propane and solar) when suitable".

Many commentators, our own Lewis Page included, not unreasonably took this vague "biomass in the environment" concept to mean anything EATR could get its robotic claws on, including humans.

Some press reports went further, suggesting EATR would suck nourishment from corpses as it went about its unholy business.

Cue an entertaining press release (pdf) from Cyclone, which stresses that EATR is "strictly vegetarian". The company explains: "Despite the far-reaching reports that this includes 'human bodies,' the public can be assured that the engine Cyclone has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips."

Cyclone marvellously adds: "Desecration of the dead is a war crime under Article 15 of the Geneva Conventions, and is certainly not something sanctioned by DARPA, Cyclone or RTI."

Well quite. Cyclone CEO Harry Schoell further assures: “We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission." ®