Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Discovery

Scientist Create A Robot That Eats And Goes To The Bathroom
Posted by  on Feb 13th, 2012 and filed under Science&Technology
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Zimmetro — Another leap forward in robotic technology, researchers have created a robot which does not only talk, walk and speak like humans but also eats and has to visit the toilet. So in the future, if you live in a big family sharing few bathrooms, you may have to make room for your robot too.

Scientists working in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory have invented a robot that can power itself by collecting its own food and water, digests it, and then poops out the waste, according to Scientific American. Yes, we are talking about robot that actually ingest matter and excretes it out. It may sound unconventional, but scientists hope that a new generation of these “ecobots” will not only be self-sustaining, but may even help recycle and reuse food waste.
Put it this way, we now nearly figure out how to build real-life robots matching that of humans, only short of a “brain” that is capable of free will and independent thinking. Whether these robots will fight with or destroy our great grandchildren, we leave that to the future.
“Robots that eat biological matters could find their ‘food’ almost anywhere,” said John Greenman, a microbiologist at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. “There is organic matter all over on Earth — leaves and soil in the forest, or even human waste such as urine and feces.”
At current available technologies, the robots can only perform tasks in short bursts before needing to recharge again. Once the technology improves, however, we can expect robots to eat everything on earth.
The scientists succeeded after 2 failures. The first prototype invented by the lab, Ecobot, was equipped with a microbial fuel battery that was powered by E. coli bacteria that fed on refined sugar. The second prototype, Ecobot-II, used sludge microbes to break down rotten matters like dead flies, prawn shells and rotten apples.
But soon, the scientists recognized they had a problem: waste. These early prototypeshad no way of dumping their leftover waste, eventually becoming “poisoned” by their own filth and stop working. This concern is what led to the current model, Ecobot-III.

East Asians and Europeans racing to build ‘live robots’.
“EcoBot-III is a robot that collects its own food and water from the environment,” said Ioannis Ieropoulos, a roboticist at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. “It performs the task we design it to do, and at the end of the day, it gets rid of its own waste. It literally craps into its own ‘litter’ tray.” The scientists claim that these robots can keep operating for upwards of 30 years as long as they have food to eat.
So how does it work? The EcoBot is actually part of a larger project by the sameuniversity who last time discovered our urine can be used to generate electricity, microbial fuel cells will be installed on the robots, where it breaks down organic matters ‘eaten’ by the robots to produce fuels, effectively giving life to them.
The team has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their work. They hope to turn the robots into a machine that can tackle both sanitation and energy needs in poor countries that need it the most. NASA is also eyeing the technology for extended space travel. If the robots can survive off by eating human waste, they would be the perfect companion for astronauts traveling to distant planets like Mars.
Check out how the robot removes its ‘feces’:
Check out how it ‘eats’ dead flies to power itself, the technologies however, is stillpreliminary:
(source: Newtechcentury)

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