Man-Eating Deathbot or Friendly Vegetarian?

By Matthew Juber Over the summer I came across an interesting, and somewhat frightening find. A robot that can consume biomass, have it’s own thought process, and even potentially carry its own weapons! This may sound like something straight out of a science-fiction novel, but according to Robotic Technology Incorporated (RTI), it isn’t. Of course

By Matthew Juber

Over the summer I came across an interesting, and somewhat frightening find. A robot that can consume biomass, have it’s own thought process, and even potentially carry its own weapons! This may sound like something straight out of a science-fiction novel, but according to Robotic Technology Incorporated (RTI), it isn’t. Of course the intentions of this robot are mostly harmless, but that doesn’t mean the potential for evil isn’t there. While the robot is supposed to be “vegetarian” (meaning it’s biomass engine will only be programmed to run off of plant bio-matter — this is taken directly from a statement by RTI) that doesn’t mean that it will be impossible for a glitch to happen. In case you didn’t know, we’re all made of biomass, which means we could all potentially fuel this robot if it were to “go rogue.”
RTI has confronted this issue, however, and has assured everyone that the EATR will only be programmed to consume plant material. And it’s unconfirmed whether or not this machine will be able to use weapons, or even if weapons will be mounted on it for military purposes. On the bright side, the bot could be extremely useful if used correctly, and if it didn’t turn on it’s human controllers. It could go into radioactive areas without worrying about radiation poisoning or be deployed into battlefield situations to use as an ambulance.
Of course, if you take a look at the separate innovations that combine to make up this complicated machine, you’ve got to be impressed. The main parts of it to note are the engine that can turn biomass into energy, the incredible artificial intelligence required to run it, and the very complex sensor array that would allow it to “forage.” All three of these are very advanced, and could be used on any number of other purposes, including your very own car. Wouldn’t it be nice to rake up leaves during fall, throw them into your car, and not have to get gas? Of course the engine itself can also run off of conventional fuel too, which makes it very versatile.
Once you get past the initial shock of thinking “Uh oh, it’s going to eat us,” this could really be a forward step in robotics and alternative energy. And the civilian usage of the EATR could really be helpful in the not-so-distant future. Ultimately, I figure that whether this will be a useful integration into society or a man-eating deathbot will depend on who holds the keys, but you can all decide for yourselves.

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