Monday, 04 July 2011 07:12

$400 for a Gallon of Diesel

$400 for a Gallon of Diesel vs. the Autonomous Land Robots

Don't freak out, it's not (yet) coming to you. At least directly. But make no mistake, this is (give or take) the cost that the military spends per gallon of Diesel deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq and consumed for powering the air conditioning generators. 
 The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion, according to a former Pentagon official.
That's more than NASA's budget. It's more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It's what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.
"When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we're talking over $20 billion," Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus' chief logistician in Iraq. He's now in the private sector, selling technologies branded as "energy-efficient" to the Department of Defense.
Sure, in a hostile environment, you cannot just plug the air conditioning into the mains or fill the tank of your Bradley at the next pump. Let not mention the nonsense of insulating tents randomly on the move. However, fuel and energy savings are not
ignored by the military. This is why DARPA develops, along with its many robotic blends, the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, in short EATR. 
OMG, a robot that feeds by itself? It's gonna eat us? Not a chance, they claim it's a vegan robot. It feeds on biomass from plants. But it can also steal gasoline, or Diesel, from the tanks of cars in a parking lot. Not that there are too many Walmarts spread across the valleys of Kandahar. Not quite sure how much biomass is at hand for the roaming robots in the desert areas either, but this is another matter. 
Point is that the military takes energy savings seriously by investing in technologies of the future. And the scary warring side of the future relays on autonomous robotic fighters, that fly as drones in the sky or crawl like spiders over the rocks and the sands. All by themselves. Keeping human soldiers back in Minnesotta. Supposedly this will eventually cut the 20.2 billion tag spent on air conditioning for the human soldiers. It's also the best way, in this case, for making a better use of oil and gas.   
"We completely understand the public's concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission," says CEO There hasn't been such a scare over the future of green since Soylent Green. But a DARPA-funded robot that forages for biomass will only consume plant matter, as opposed to dead bodies or wayward pets, its creators assure us. The makers of the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) have issued a statement saying that "this robot is strictly vegetarian," after news outlets ranging from Fox News to CNET pounced on the flesh-eating potential of the bot. "We completely understand the public's concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission," said Harry Schoell, CEO of Cyclone Power Technologies. "We are focused on demonstrating that our engines can create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter." Schoell's six-cylinder, 16-horsepower waste-heat engine previously captured one of Pop
The autonomous fuel-feeding robotic DARPA projects demonstrate that there are realistic ways to optimize crude consumption, to make a better use of oil and gasoline in hostile environments. Plus it brings a novel type of guerrilla on the battle fields. Supposedly equipped with unhackable central processing units. How to make a bullet proof computer security system is another matter.  
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