University of Maryland professor Robert Finkelstein is building the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR), a robot designed to provide its own fuel source by grabbing sticks and branches, sawing them into pieces, and feeding them to a biomass-powered generator.
EATR could help with border control, keep a look out for forest fires, or serve in battle as a small weapons system or as a mule, Finkelstein says. "It could reduce the logistics burden because it can forage for its own fuel while the soldiers are resting, just like a living pack mule might do," he says.
By the end of April, Finkelstein hopes to demonstrate that the robot can tell the difference between fuel sources and non-fuel sources and chop them up. The device will navigate and make decisions using optical sensors, cameras, and remote sensing technology.
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