Soylent Green is…robots?

Some days I love the internet – not in the Superman and Mrs. Blog sense, but in an entirely platonic haze of bafflement.

Which brings us to the. Best. Press release. Ever.

Company Denies Its Robots Feed On The Dead

Zombie jokes aside, though, it’s a cool idea at first glance. Basically they’re robots powered by biomass – twigs and leaves and so forth – which they’re able to gather themselves. Somebody suggested in the article comments that they could be used for clearing railroad tracks and remote roads and whatnot. So far so good.

The downside: at the moment, this is a military project, funded by DARPA. The company says the “commercial applications…are enormous”, but let’s not kid ourselves, eh? When people start talking about making war “greener”, I have to go and have a lie-down.

Also: I can’t help wondering how discriminating these robots are. I’m not talking about eating people here, but suppose we do end up using something like this for remote-area work (because in more populated areas, I’m pretty sure road cleanup is done by roving bands of Girl Guides – at least that’s what we had to do for our Community Service Merit Badges when I was a kid). Can we be sure they’re not going to start chewing up important bits of the ecosystem here? Robots are notoriously bad at visual recognition, and eating endangered species is exactly the kind of thing they’d probably do. Just for spite.

Eh, so basically, my inner geek and my inner environmentalist are going to be having some serious arguments over this one. Still, you gotta love robots.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Geoff on August 5, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I love this post! Not sure about those robots though….


  2. Posted by Jenny on August 5, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    What about a robot lawnmower that lives off grass clippings? Can we make that happen?


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