A government funded robot, known as the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR), was designed to eat vegetation; however, a video has circulated online over the past year of iconic podcaster Joe Rogan claiming the EATR robot could consume animals and human bodies.
According to Reuters, claims that the the EATR robot was designed to consume biological matter such as animals and human bodies have been made without evidence. Nevertheless, the claims have been widely circulated on social media.
A Facebook video with thousands of shares was circulated earlier this year, causing users to comment warnings like “Flesh eating robot!!! It’s a crazy world” and “EATR Robot… eats biological (canbeflesh) as fuel??”
The video, which originated on TikTok, shows Joe Rogan claiming that the EATR robot is capable of running on biological material, while a caption states, “EATR ROBOTS MADE FLESH FOR FUEL.”
The TikTok video compiles comments Rogan made regarding the EATR during one of his podcast episodes in 2019, as well as comments he made during an episode of the FLAGRANT comedy podcast in 2022.
During his guest appearance on the FLAGRANT podcast last year, Rogan said, “An EATR robot is a robot that runs on biological material.”
“They have already made it,” he added, in response to one of the hosts doubting his statement. “It’s a robot that’s powered by biological material. So I’m just saying worst case scenario, this is a robot that eats bodies on a battlefield to stay alive. And that’s how it powers itself.”
While Rogan said people can say “we don’t mean biological material in that way, we mean plant matter,” he warned that the government-sponsored robot was designed to feed on “biological material.”
The EATR was first designed by the Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) in 2003 and sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The robot was designed to be able to find its own sources of energy instead of being required to go through a typical refueling process during extended missions.
A DARPA spokesperson told Reuters that the project, funded between October of 2007 and May of 2011, was intended to “convert plant-based biomass to electrical energy to power the EATR subsystems.”
RTI President Robert Finkelstein explained to Reuters that the EATR robot was created to “obtain energy from vegetation in the environment,” such as grass, leaves, shrubs, wood, and weeds. Finkelstein also noted that the EATR could not use human or animal bodies as fuel, since the robot was designed to only fuel on appropriate energy sources.
“It would not recognize bodies, human or animal, as fuel,” Finkelstein stated. “In addition to the moral issue, a newly dead human or animal body has too much moisture to be used as fuel, and the engine could not accommodate the size of a whole human or large animal body in any case.”
After reports circulated about a “flesh eating” robot project, RTI and Cyclone Power Technologies Inc., the company that developed the EATR’s engine, published a press release in 2009 to “set the record straight” by assuring the public that the EATR robot was “strictly vegetarian.”
A video of Joe Rogan’s comments concerning the EATR robot can be seen below. Warning: the video below contains explicit language.