I had some stray thoughts crystallize while watching reports regarding this war on terrorism that has gotten started in Afghanistan as a result of the mass murder of thousands in the WTC.
I may have messed up by proposing too specific an energy system because the systems field requirements could be refined by U.S. military experts. It now occurrs to me that such a system could easily be flown or driven into remote areas with knowledgeable (able to read and apply American English written instructions) peace corp volunteers via some of the remotely piloted vehicles that have been reported in articles here as in use or under development and that some of the local robotics experts might be able to further enhance these systems for specific missions.
For example: An alcohol or methane based internal combusion engine might be available by converting the presumably gasoline or jp engine of one of the U.S. military's survelliance aircraft. If a portable computer and satellite dish could be smuggled or driven in then this power plant could serve local elements of civilization well. Likewise the solar cells on the wings of any solar powered surveillance robot that came down (either intentionally crashes or shot down). There are myriad possibilities and since the U.S. military has been training for decades for information warfare and the CIA and NSA engaged in these double and triple think operations routinely in the cold war I am certain that as Tom Ridge's Home Defense Office gets established and really starts coordinating that we will see some awesomely creative and synergistic solutions begin to emerge.
For example: I noticed in the news that the nation's water and waste water treatment plants have requested $5Billion to enhance security on their plants. Can you imagine how many of the systems such as I have proposed could be put into place in U.S. rural and urban communities to help protect our water supplies while providing our teenagers the communications and processing systems they so desperately need to safely self educate themselves in high tech systems in preparation for participation in a high tech job market and war on terrorism? Let's say each system as fielded in remote global areas cost ten to twenty thousand apiece. Then dividing 20K into 2B we get one hundred thousand standalone remote monitoring and educational systems in rural remote USA tied into U.S. military satellites or domestic internet providers. Obviously several thousand of the 20K must be budgeted for electricity, feul and internet access. This will not make arms manufacturers happy but we can alway buy COT (commercial off the shelf) equipment if the margins are insufficient for bloated defense industries to manage effectively in pursuit of an economic profit over and above a reasonable rate of return on investment. Using COTS in more traditional urban environnments we should be able to keep the unit price well under 10K .... giving us over 300K systems in low rent districts and urban ghettos (nobody really wants to live next to a sewage treatment plant so these tend to be in low rent districts or ghettos with high rent if it can be arranged by the landlords).
Anyway, I would be interested in any thoughts on how to improve the proposal but to avoid wasting any time in implementation if it has any merit I have already cc'd it to Tom Ridge so his highly effective, if underpaid by personally demanding standards, U.S.G. professionals can slice and dice it for possible tasks worthy of integration into existing U.S.G. civil defense and anti-terrorism efforts already on the drawing boards and actively being fielded.
My email access is a bit erratic so if you wish to send your thoughts by U.S. postal service to:
Michael R. Irwin 876 N. Knott Coquille, OR 97423
Email me at my occasionally checked email drop: firstname.lastname@example.org
or merely record them in your journal here and cc them to Tom Ridge, Home Defense Coordinator care of President Bush, The White House, Washington D.C.
as you deem most appropriate, I would sincerely appreciate your participation in our war on terrorism and other anti civilization influences world wide as well as here at home in the U.S.
Sincerely Michael R. Irwin Apprentice as of Oct 2001, robots.net
P.S. Can you picture 2,000 esm (or better designed robots ... I am aware that I am way behind in my robot designs if I wish to see them fielded .... perhaps I could license the name and participate somehow with a robotic design team that chooses to use it) with a payload as described above creeping over the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan while sending continuous telemetry to each other and U.S. military forces? I wonder what the casualty ratio of terrorist attackers vs. esm school stations would be? After establishing a baseline we could probably tell when the local U.S. and NATO military forces were getting overtasked because obviously response to a robot in distress will be amongst the lowest priority tasking in the theator if active military ops or attacks upon villages are suspected to be immanent. You got to figure it would tie up and slow down a lot of terrorist forces if they first have to be certain that U.S. and NATO forces are tied up elsewhere before they attack a cheap robot or face attack helicopters, snipers, high altitude bombing or whatever else the civilized world's manufacturing base chooses to profitably expend upon them in retaliation for attacking mobile schools and economic infrastructure on the way to serve our brethren within Afghanistan or other previously economically and informationally disadvantaged regions.