Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cyberpunk Radio - #107 - Microbial Reactor Fuel Cell Battlebots



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Updated 10 Jul 2009:

Declassified documentation:

Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR)

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Original story:

The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward.

Pluri Media Group Breaking News: Here we reveal the secret weapon- information leaked from MILSIM; autonomous, self fueling robots, 'feeding' on a novel source of energy.

Robots need energy- fuel, to power CPUs and sensors (the robot nervous systems) as well as actuators (robotic muscles). Traditional batteries have never had satisfactory performance, particularly for extended duration continuous operation. Some sort of renewable energy is needed. Taking a lesson from biotic evolution, attempts have been made to harness energy in the environment like simple vegetation, where on board microbes are used to process the raw foraged matter into energy, with the waste discharged. Previous microbial powered fuel cells could only produce an open circuit voltage of not more than 0.75 volts, which is significantly less than needed for even modest industrial/military robotic applications. Recently though, bioengineered microbes have been developed that can rapidly and efficiently oxidize practically any organic material and produce open circuit voltage upwards of 0.5 kv, easily enough to power high mobility military assault bots for short bursts between foraging. Plants, plastics, oils and fat- all of these can be readily converted to and stored in fuel cells.

Combining a multi-tool maw for foraging with energy producing high efficiency oxidizer microbes to digest the raw matter, then converting it to stored energy, all coordinated through autonomous action via nuanced command and control circuits composed of primate neuronal cells superimposed on MILSYNC nano circuitry culmonates in the state of the art for fully self sustained battle ready robots. Since these constructs utilize organic matter for power, and are fully autonomous, they are deployed only to the most dangerous theaters of warfare. Fail safe systems are incorporated into the basal circuits; convergence algorithms based on Lyapunov stability theory. Generally, friendly fire hazards have been minimized- though military personnel are cautioned to avoid encounters with these bots due to the potential for fire control 'glitches' which could pose a 'potential lethal risk' to collaterals unfortunate enough to be interposed in projectile path.

In addition to the obvious risk of friendly fire from these autonomous battle bots, there is also a directive to field operatives to steer well clear of these bots during operations as they are programmed to autonomously scavenge for 'food'- anything containing "carbohydrate, protein, and/or oil" as input.

It is not yet know whether the neuronal control systems will self adapt to scavenge 'non standard' food sources such as larger animals, or even humans.

Additional content:

Andrew Octopus - Big In The Mind

Sudden Death - Reign Of Error

Duration: 23:26
File Size: 22648634