Robotic Technology Purchases Beta Biomass Engine System From Cyclone Power Technologies for Use in Series Hybrid Power System
29 January 2009
|Rendering of EATR. Click to enlarge.|
Cyclone Power Technologies Inc., the developer of an external combustion engine (earlier post), has received a contract from Robotic Technologies Inc. (RTI), of Potomac, MD, to develop a beta biomass engine system which will be used in a series hybrid subsystem in RTI’s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR), a project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Sciences Office.
The EATR is an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance military missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling. The system is designed to obtain its energy by foraging—engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating.
The patent pending robotic system can find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil and solar) when suitable.
Cyclone brings to this project one of the most advanced external combustion engine technologies we have seen. In terms of power-to-size ratio, scalability and fuel flexibility, the Cyclone engine is ideal for a self-sustaining, autonomous intelligent robotic vehicle designed for unique military or civil applications.—Dr. Robert Finkelstein, President of RTI
The Cyclone engine uses an external combustion chamber to heat a separate working fluid (de-ionized water) which expands to create mechanical energy by moving pistons or a turbine (i.e., Rankine cycle steam engine). Combustion is external so engine can run on any fuel (solid, liquid, or gaseous).
|Example EATR architecture. Click to enlarge.|
The Cyclone engine’s combustion chamber is configured to create a rotating flow that facilitates complete air and fuel mixing, and complete combustion, so there are very low emissions, and less heat is released. The engine does not require a catalytic converter, radiator, transmission, oil pump or lubricating oil (water lubricated). All this results in decreased engine size and weight, and increased efficiency and reliability.
In the proof-of-concept, the Cyclone engine will drive a generator to produce electric current for a rechargeable battery pack, which will power the sensors, processors and controls, and the robotic arm/end effector (battery ensures continuous energy output despite intermittent biomass energy intake). The engine will not provide mobility power for vehicle for proof-of-concept, but will for the EATR prototype.
RTI calculates that about 3-12 lbs of dry vegetation (wood or plants) used as fuel in the Cyclone will produces 1 kWh. This equates to 2-8 miles driving, or more than 80 hours of standby, or 6-75 hours of mission operations (depending on power draw and duty cycle) before EATR would need to forage, process and generate/store power again. About 150 lbs of vegetation could provide sufficient energy for 100 miles of driving.
This development project is expected to have two phases. In Phase I, Cyclone will build and deliver within six months the engine with a biomass combustion chamber for demonstration purposes. Cyclone believes that its radial six-cylinder, 16 hp Waste Heat Engine (WHE) system is ideally suited for this application. In Phase II, Cyclone would build and deliver the biomass trimmer/gatherer and feeder system to work with its engine power source.
According to RTI, the EATR demonstration project can lead to three potential commercialization projects:
The development of prototype and operational EATR systems for military and civil applications;
New civil and military applications for the autonomous intelligent control system; and, most relevant for Cyclone,
Development of the hybrid external combustion engine system for civil and military automotive applications, whether for manned or unmanned vehicles.
Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot project overview
Looks interesting. Just hope Dr. Frankenstein does not add replication ability and libido to this machine ;-)
Posted by: Henrik | 29 January 2009 at 05:37 AM
Don't tell Skynet about this one!
Posted by: clett | 29 January 2009 at 05:47 AM
Sounds like the steam locomotive meets Terminator
Posted by: runbikedude | 29 January 2009 at 06:35 AM
I hope they programmed this robot to avoid humans as useful biomass
Posted by: Alessio | 29 January 2009 at 09:17 AM
The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's is the 21th Century version of the Government Mule.
Posted by: dursun | 29 January 2009 at 10:35 AM
Wow, just when I thought Dr. Strangelove was dead along comes the EATR! There's no war crimes if you eat the evidence.
I propose a new website: www.redcarcongress.com to showcase inventions like this. We'll need new acronyms for fuel economy standards: MPV (miles per victim). MPEC (miles per enemy combatant) or MPCD (miles per collateral damage) or MPFFV (miles per friendly fire victim) or MPFH (miles per farm house).
I know they're only talking about eating shrubbery now, but it only takes a software upgrade to use any organic matter.
Really folks, I'm going to have nightmares tonight.
What kind of sick, twisted, mind would dream up a robot that feeds on the environment in its path? Like the "Smart" bomb or Agent Orange this is a logical solution to a military problem. But logic without compassion is a very creepy thing.
Posted by: creativforce | 29 January 2009 at 10:45 AM
I can't see a practical application. Why not a solar panel? Or an RTG? Places with poor sunlight (Arctic) would probably also have poor grazing opportunities. The weight of the feeding mechanism is also an overhead for the vehicle's core function.
Once their A.I. circuits figure out the high caloric content of the human brain, there will be no stopping them:
"Open the door. I know you're in there. I can smell your brain! EATR needs food!"
Posted by: Jim | 29 January 2009 at 11:15 AM
I can see it now - A farmer goes out to see what's raiding his chickens and this thing shoots and eats him.
Posted by: Lucas | 29 January 2009 at 04:04 PM
The used engine look very inefficient. 150 lbs of vegetation for 100miles. Vegetation probably have energy density 6-8MJ/kg or 0.7-1.1kW/lb, they need up to 12 lbs for 1KW so the efficiency is just above 10%, They should used more advance version of Cyclone motor.
I definitely will envision military vehicle that could be refueled using natural resources.
However, AI vehicle that can "refuel" it self, sound kind of scary.
So what it will do on battlefield when it need fuel... eat some Soylent Green?
I thing somebody have to propose some new addition to Geneva Convention to band "eating humans" by artificial intelligent vehicle. Better introduce that before they build that.
I think elephant will be more efficient with similar food requirements. Ups...Hannibal used such not-artificial intelligence war vehicle 2000 years ego...
Posted by: mkimagine | 29 January 2009 at 07:26 PM
corpses have to be disposed of, otherwise you get diseases and so on. Could be very useful in a major disaster, such as the coming Big One in California.
Posted by: Herm | 30 January 2009 at 12:16 AM
Many peoples think and act to provoke the end of living here on earth actually. They wish to be the last one living in a secure protected zone like say zone 51 in u.s.a and control robots at a distance doing the killing of what might still be left living. Many politicians have these plans in preparation like solar submarines. These folks oppose hydrogen energy till the bible time of long time ago where mosus said to separate the water molecule in 2 to make energy, water electrolisis in other words. Not just politicians oppose free energy from water, majority of folks have decided to die for eternity and are feared water electrolisis as a nightmare that can power everything without pollution for eternity.
Posted by: a.b | 02 February 2009 at 09:34 AM
Our desire for the falsely magical idea of renewable fuels, corn ethanol, celulostic ethanol, biodiesel and others is shown in a new light by the reactions to this device. Last year, corn ethanol was actually eating peoples lives away by making it too expensive to eat enough because the mere premise of much more corn being needed to produce the mandated ethanol caused massive speculation that raised its price.
This Terminator machine already exists but in separate pieces. Ethanol lobbiests, politicians who do not understand energy, oil and corn speculators and others. Biomass energy failed to be sufficient for industry and civilized countries two hundred years ago and more in many places. Speculation on the price of oil may have triggered the environmental collapse that has deprived people of their homes, savings, incomes and lives.
There is not one oil company executive who does not know that oil is obtained from the ground for less than $25 a barrel at any existing well. Any oil shortages are caused by a combination of the oil producers to fail to use their profits to increase the supply of oil and the cooperation of the US government and others to allow them to do this. Even if US offshore drilling would not have brought a drop of oil to the market within five years, if the resumption of offshore drilling was announced and fully supported by governments, the price of oil would have dropped the next day enough to save billions of dollars of money extorted from the people by speculators and conspirators inside and outside of oil producers. ..HG..
Posted by: Henry Gibson | 23 July 2009 at 11:08 AM