Over in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory there's a robot that's capable of not only running on organic matter it consumes, but of pooping out the waste as well. This robot has been created in the never-ending quest to create a robot that's able to sustain itself, of course, and may well be the next step to a human poo-powered robo-maid if they don't gain a conscience before they learn to clean our houses. As it stands now, the "Ecobot-III" can consume masses of its own food and water from its environment, including human feces if you let it, and "craps" out what it can't use into its own litter tray..
I don't use the word "crap" lightly, as it's Ioannis Ieropoulos, a roboticist at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, who uses the term in a description of the robot. This isn't the first prototype created by the lab, but it does share it's name. Ecobot has been the name of this project since the first iteration, one equipped with a microbial fuel cell that allowed the robot to be powered by E. coli bacteria as it fed on refined sugar. The second bot was Ecobot-II and was able to work with sludge microbes to break down all manner of nasty things: rotten apples, dead flies, and prawn shells amongst them.
But then came the the problem of what to do with the waste - there's always waste somewhere or another! As these two first iterations started to eat more and more, their lack of a way to get rid of waste had the food they'd eaten poisoning them - death ensued. So the Ecobot-III was born, and the pooping began. This robot is also called "BREADbot" - Bio-Regulation and Energy-Autonomy with Digestion. As Ieropoulos notes:
"EcoBot-III is a robot that collects its own food and water from the environment. 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." - Ieropoulos
This robot is gaining some big interest from such names as NASA who are taking special interest in the robot if it truly is able to work by breaking down human feces (amongst other things, but mostly that) as such a robot could play a big part in future space travel missions should then include human companions. As far as sticking around Earth, John Greenman, microbiologist at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory had the following to say:
"Robots that eat biological fuels could find enough fuel almost anywhere. There is organic matter anywhere on Earth — leaves and soil in the forest, or even human waste such as urine and feces." - Greenman
As the project started in 2002, moved up to Ecobot-III in 2010 and hits the next level soon, so too do we move closer to the Circle of Life edition of poobot - Ecobot-IV. The Ecobot-IV model is in the works now and will both be shrinking in size significantly and will be gaining much more power from each bit of waste by boosting the stacks of microbial fuel cells. Now feast your eyes on the nastiest robot on earth as it's presented by the scientists and engineers that produced it:
[via Mother Nature Network]