Everybody loves robots, but how will you keep your domestic systems running when energy supply is expensive or sporadic? Jimmy Loizeau and James Auger have an answer straight out of classic science fiction dime novel territory – you design them to consume organic matter. Organic matter from the corpses of household vermin.
The pests are lured in and digested by an internal microbial fuel cell. This exploits the way microbes generate free electrons and hydrogen ions when oxidising chemicals for energy. Electronics can be powered by directing the electrons around an external circuit before reuniting them with the ions.
“As soon as there is a predatory robot in the room the scene becomes loaded with potential,” Auger told New Scientist. “A fly buzzing around the window suddenly becomes an actor in a live game of life, as the viewer half wills it towards the robot and half hopes for it to escape.”
Although, for now, the robots rely on mains power, Auger believes they could become truly self-sufficient. “If the system fails, the grid goes down and all humans die, these robots could go on living so long as the flies don’t go with us.”
Machines with a taste for flesh – what could possibly go wrong? [via MetaFilter]
In other robot news, Sega have bought and rebadged WowWee’s unsuccessful FemiSapien robot, which now goes under the name EMA (Eternal Maiden Actualization – sounds like a transhuman manga title, AMIRITE?) as a potential mechanical girlfriend.
The robot […] is designed to pucker up for nearby human heads, entering “love mode” using a series of infrared sensors powered by battery.
“Strong, tough and battle-ready are some of the words often associated with robots, but we wanted to break that stereotype and provide a robot that’s sweet and interactive,” said Minako Sakanoue, a spokeswoman for the maker, Sega Toys to Reuters news agency.
“She’s very lovable and though she’s not a human, she can act like a real girlfriend.”
EMA can also hand out business cards, sing and dance.
Originally designed for the teen girl market, for some inexplicable reason the FemiSapien just didn’t click with her target demographic; whether the male otaku lobby will take to her inherently platonic charms remains to be seen. Personally, I’d hold out for an augmented reality idoru; if nothing else, she’d take up less space on my desk. [also via MetaFilter]