A game of Internet telephone has distorted the story of EATR, or Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, thus morphing the vegetarian, bio-fueled, DoD-sponsored robot from innocent twig forager into … corpse-eating battleground vulture! Long live the Interweb.

Los Angeles Times:

The speculation that launched EATR into the popular consciousness as a carnivore can be traced to a straightforward news release from Cyclone on July 7. The word “biomass” in the release was misinterpreted to mean EATR could feed on corpses on a battlefield.

It reached a fever pitch in mid-July, when FoxNews, Fast Company and CNET published online reports repeating the speculation, without first checking with Robotic Technologies or Cyclone.

The companies’ websites were swamped. The project’s main sponsor, the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, wanted the public record corrected.

Cyclone issued a second news release July 16, calling EATR a “vegetarian” — leading to even more news coverage. A story about EATR being a “vegetarian” ran in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

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