back to article Robot land-steamers to consume all life on Earth as fuel

News has emerged of a milestone reached on the road towards a potentially world-changing piece of technology. We speak, of course, of US military plans to introduce roving steam-powered robots which would fuel themselves by harvesting everything alive and cramming it into their insatiable blazing furnaces. The scheme is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    I can see it now, DARPA releases these robots everywhere except North America and has a masive EMP flash every 2-3 mins along the US borders... then the US could rape the planet and there would be no-one around to complain*

    *except the robots but they'd be under US control.

  2. Martin Lyne

    I love

    I love the way it slipped into fiction there.

    OR DID IT?

    Woudln't it be easier to make dirty pikey robots that unscrew stationary car fuel caps and sup the octanous liquid within?

    No robotic masticating needed then. Also - recon is meant to be slightly stealthy, a trail of munched crops and a plume of smoke/steam on the horizon may give it away. What happens when it rains?

    Will it have a battery backup, just in case? Or is the motion mechanical rather than steam->electricity? No, I refuse to clickon the link to learn more.

  3. Rocket

    April Fool's

    Haha nice one Reg. An April fools joke in July.

    .. it is ... isn't it?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    But they can be stopped... bacteria, although humans have become imune to them, <steam powered killings machines> are no match......

    Ulla, ulla, ulla, ullaaaaaaaa

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I have seen Terminator

    This is dumb, no?

  6. Dan Breen

    uh huh

    9th of July, not 1st of April.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I for one welcome....

    .... nah not going there!

  8. andy gibson

    old apple cores

    "Cyclone says that their engine can also run happily on old apple cores, banana peel and other kitchen garbage gleaned from bins."

    "Mr Fusion" on the DeLorean at the end of Back To The Future?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    welcome our semi-intelligent, walking pressure-cooker-esque, pikey thieving robotic overlords.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah thats right...

    I plan to move to Death Valley, hopefully the blighters will be out of steam before they reach me...

    Until they discover plutonium....

  11. Ebeneezer Wanktrollop

    Recognition ability?

    Could they be programmed to prey only on the likes of Kleeneezee reps, wheelclampers, MP's and Big Brother housemates etc.? You know - stuff that is a waste product of the planet already?

  12. Richard 81


    Surely this thing could be seen for miles around, belching our smoke and steam and, if it burns road kill and bodies, smelling strongly of BBQ. Also, how big would this thing have to be?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Autonom-nom-nom-nomous technology

    You, sir, win a cookie just for that!

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Martin Gregorie

    Previously described art

    Does anybody else remember the coal fired, steam powered robot in Harry Harrison's "The Stainless Steel Rat"?

  16. Chronos

    I like it.

    At least there's now a fitting response to those who keep whining on about carbon dioxide and "the environment" as they line their own pockets. See? They can be useful - as fuel.

  17. Ray0x6

    MR FUSION!!!

    All they have to do is develop a time machine within the next 6 years and we can travel to 2015 BEFORE IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS. Then suddenly, the future will resolve into a symbolically complete solution of itself and wink out of existence as we become caught in a non-terminating causal reality/unreality Mobius/Spielberg probability loop. THANKS DARPA!!!


  18. DZ-Jay

    Prior art?

    So DARPA is creating a machine that will hang around stealthily, and potentially eat or burn anything in sight, and also steal the gas from your car?

    Any parent of a teenager can claim prior art, then.


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm curious

    At what temperature furnace does a human body have to be tossed into, in order to extract combustible energy.

    Or whatever the term I'm looking for, but probably not correctly articulating, is..

    Surely there must be some chemists who can answer this?

  20. Julian I-Do-Stuff


    Matrix, shurely?

    (with the spoon.... what do you mean there's no....?)

  21. Giggidy.


    Someone call SG1 & Richard Dean Anderson to stop the Replicators!

  22. gaz 7


    Am I wrong, but besides the obvious, and now-ever-so-slightly-dull-and-predicatable teminator/skynet references, didn't Thunderbirds feature a couple of storylines about machines like this going mental?

    Calling International Rescue.....

  23. Peter Simpson 1
    Black Helicopters

    Won't work so well in the desert

    unless they can digest rocks...

    Reminds me of all the apocalyptic stories I've read where the apparently invincible force is felled by the one thing the designers didn't take into account. It will probably be wear and tear that halts the giant, lumbering furnaces.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doomsday Machine

    There was a cracking Star Trek episode called The Doomsday Machine, someone at DARPA must have watched it, possibly after a little chemical abuse.

  25. Rogue Genome


    Mek - Quake says : Big Jobs!!!

  26. storng.bare.durid

    Dear Darpa

    Steam is not sexy enough. So yesterday. We want Mr. Fusion, please?

  27. Kevin 6

    I wonder

    If I am the only one that misread "Cyclone Power Technologies" as Cylon Power Technologies?

  28. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Manchurian AcademICQs

    With a little more development, it could almost be a human. In fact, with some Deeper Programming, it is not difficult to turn Man into Machine, which is a much better and simpler option than contemplating and battling with the reverse/converse

    Strangely enough the same thought has just been posted on the El Reg Brother/Sister site .... the Inquirer.... which is Spooky ....... "Wage a war...Lose the Peace" ...

  29. LuMan

    Don't Panic

    If these things are built in the same factories as most American cars they'll only be able to travel at walking pace and be incapable of turning! All we need to do is keep up a brisk step and walk in a circle:

    <zoinks! the humanoid energy being has evaded me. activating orientation adjustment circuits. oh sh*t! i haven't got any...>

  30. Z 1


    Reminds me the game Thief 2 where the bad guy Karras wanted to erradicate everyone and replace them with metallic steam powered "Children of the builder".

    "In one act, I will end all human suffering, and clear the path for the Builder to walk again on earth, history will move forward! My tireless children will build in his name, creating advancements beyond our understanding."

    Truly, life is stranger than fiction!

  31. Gabriel Vistica


    Yeah, but that was just a logging machine, and the crew fell unconcious when the chili from the night before finally settled in. (I'm not joking! Watch the episode!)

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Great, my tax dollars are going....

    to making a heavily-armed smokey, clanking mechanical raccoon?

    Can't DARPA train the real thing (or maybe a pack of coyotes) to do the same job?

  33. John Savard


    I'll have to say that with an acronym like EATR, I was inclined to think of this as simply a joke article, although military equipment not tied to one sort of fuel is practical enough.

  34. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    the Berserkers

    they dropped a bit and started destroying ALL life, instead of only the "enemy"

    an organized resistance could probably poison it with boron laced fuels.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    It's been done - 130 years ago

    See Boilerplate at ;)

  36. YumDogfood

    Meat fuel

    Kill two with one stone.

  37. Xris M

    Took me a minute... remember where I had seen this before. DARPA as just copying ideas from Star Wars.

    This is just a World Devastator.

    "The world devastators were designed from ground based walking construction droids, which use a molecular furnace to 'consume' and remake debris and other items into useful/new constructions."

  38. Dtech

    Please tell me that it's April Fools day.

    Please tell me that it's April Fools day. Alternatively, tell me that the author has been drinking.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A slightly less alarming view

  40. Owen Milton

    Actually a better use...

    Might be to train plant and roadkill eating bots, and release them along highways. Never again will you have to see a weed or untrimmed lawn or dead skunk. With appropriate training, they could handle all the public lands yard maintenance, thus saving people some valuable tax monies which could be redirected to DARPA.

  41. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Ponzi Foundations for Milking the System for Rubbish Technology? Made in America

    "Safe Harbor Statement

    Certain statements in this news release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of Rule 175 under the Securities Act of 1933 and Rule 3b-6 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and are subject to the safe harbor created by those rules. All statements, other than statements of fact, included in this release, including, without limitation, statements regarding potential future plans and objectives of the company, are forward-looking

    statements that involve risks and uncertainties. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. The company cautions that these forward-looking statements are further qualified by other factors. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any statements in this release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise."

    The above is what you read at the end of the provided pdf link ...... and it should tell you a lot about the product's viability.

    The world is a fairy tale and easily led by words.

  42. Johnny Canuck
    Dead Vulture

    might look something like this

  43. Kevin Campbell
    Thumb Up

    is it just me...

    ... or should the 'biomass furnace which powers a steam generator driving a "waste heat engine" from Cyclone Power Technologies' be put into a passenger vehicle for trial?

    THAT part of it sounds like a decent idea and a lot more likely to happen soon than the preferable Mr. Fusion.

    Oh, and I do love the idea of having it feed on roadkill and Big Brother housemates.

  44. Bounty

    Old school tech

    My wife and I made 2 of these already, took us about 20 min. for the initial prototypes. Ongoing programming and upgrades are costing us, but we imagine we should have 2 fully working field tested samples in about 14 years.

  45. Paul RND*1000

    Om nom?


    That name right there, is purest WIN. :-)

    "The idea of EATR is ostensibly that military reconnaissance droids far behind enemy lines would be able to forage for fuel."

    And by happy coincidence would also plunder the resources of the enemy as they did so. Burn and pillage, yeah! Not exactly stealthy though.

    "Steam is not sexy enough. So yesterday."

    I'm sure those people responsible for developing and refining nuclear powered subs and aircraft carriers would disagree... :-)

    "Might be to train plant and roadkill eating bots, and release them along highways. Never again will you have to see a weed or untrimmed lawn or dead skunk."

    Awesome, where can I preorder one of these? Should take care of trimming my lawn, solve my mole/rabbit/neighbor's dog problems in a stroke, *and* double as a handy home defense system should some miscreant wander onto my property.

  46. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Remember they're American

    So they get as far as the first McD's eat a weeks worth of food and become so obese they have to be driven around in Hummers.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Mmmmm, people.....

    They're really just after the soylent green. NOM NOM NOM

  48. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Martin 6

    Hummers? Nah. They'd need to be able to turn waste into ersatz petrol to run 'em and if they could do that, we wouldn't need 'em in the first place.

    They'll be generating power, so the obvious mitigation to the robotic fat bastard problem would be for them to nick a lard chariot, plug it in to a handy power take off and run around like that. So, if you wake up one morning and find that the trees are gone from your garden, your dustbins are empty and your segway's missing, you know what's happened.

  49. jon 72


    Somewhere there is a room full of people thinking this sh**.. stuff up and getting paid handsomely with taxpayers money... am torn between wanting in or pouring the concrete to seal the room.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Dalek vulnerability.

    Well, maybe its tracks will be able to go up stairs, but I think it's likely to be stumped by a big pit.

    I'll get my moat ....

  51. Lionel Baden

    that engine`

    sounds like something you could stick in a delorean !!!

    TT FTW !!!

  52. blackworx


    Lewis old chap you have outdone yourself.

  53. Yorkshirepudding

    @ Xris M

    i was thinking that too, better build some plucky R2 units just in case

  54. The First Dave

    Think ahead

    All these comments, and not one person has asked where they will get water from to fill the boiler!

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Nominative determinism

    I know, not perfect, but with a name like Dr. Robert Finkelstein (of Robotic Technologies), he just had to invent scary monsters.

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