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July 20, 2010 / Martijn

Self-Sustaining Robots

In order to create truly autonomous robots that can sustain themselves without human intervention, it’s necessary to first create a way for them to fuel themselves. While engineering our ‘bots to plug themselves into the wall is one solution, robotics researchers envision the androids of the future consuming waste and biomass to generate power to operate. To that end, researchers at Bristol Robotics Lab in the UK have created the first synthetic gut for use in self-sustaining robots.

Biomass-munching robots aren’t new in concept — many have been demonstrated in the past, relying on microbial fuel cells to turn organic matter into hydrogen atoms that can fuel a machine — but the synthetic gut is the first to deal with the waste produced during this process. Bristol’s Ecobot III consumes its own meals, turns a mash of nutrient-rich, partially processed sewage into fuel, and later, ahem, excretes.

via Self-Sustaining Robot Equipped with New Artificial Gut Eats, and Excretes, All By Itself | Popular Science.


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