Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Robots that Eat

PostedJune 27, 2010

Download File (mp3)

Randy Atkins: Sending robots on long-term solo missions presents a problem – where to get power.  So Bob Finkelstein, president of Robotic Technology in Potomac (MD) is engineering a machine that feeds itself.

Robert Finkelstein: It’s designed to forage like an animal, to eat vegetation in the environment so that it can get its own energy.

Randy Atkins: Onboard sensors ID food.  Then the robot chops, cuts, or saws its meal…shoveling the veggies into a hopper that’s drawn into its metal body and burned.  The heat drives a steam engine, generating electricity that charges a battery pack.

Robert Finkelstein: It might be able to stay out for weeks or months without human intervention.

Randy Atkins: Potential uses range from the military, to border patrol, to agriculture.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.


The robots could be ready for action in three years.