DARPA develops ‘smart grass’ that yells at you for walking on it

ARLINGTON, Va.—The builder for a revolutionary Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract announced Monday that it has successfully produced a new type of fully autonomous grass that yells at anyone who walks on it.

“The Autonomous Shouting Sod System is the result of six years of research and development,” announced Darrel Hoffstetter, president of Northrop Grumman’s Autonomous Systems division, in a statement to the press Monday afternoon. “We’re confident this innovation will improve order and discipline across the military.”

The top-secret DARPA project, codenamed “Verdant Blade,” began in 2013 after a survey of sergeants major revealed walking on the grass to be the single greatest threat to force readiness, beating out both uniform violations and hands in pockets.

“ASSS represents the forefront of military lawn technology,” Hoffstetter continued. “It’s live, growing sod, with a sensory framework incorporated into it that senses footfalls, and triggers hoarse, angry yelling to keep the hell off the grass.”

The ASSS can be programmed and adjusted through its Hardware Operating Linkup.

“The ASSS-HOL is a force multiplier of sorts—a single ASSS-HOL can enforce discipline for all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, or Marines on post. You can even customize the level of obscenity and the intensity of anger, ranging from ‘polite reminder’ to ‘first sergeant aneurysm.”

Name calling can also be customized, using options from branch-specific terms like ‘devil dog’ to generic epithets like ‘lazy sack of shit.’

Defense budget documents show that the development of the technology cost a total of $32B, with an additional $11B earmarked to deploy ASSS-HOLs to headquarters lawns in bases around the world. The extreme drought tolerance of the strain makes is suitable for posts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a place researchers would only refer to as “Ersia-pay.”

Reactions to the new grass have been mixed.

“It’s quite a change,” commented Command Sgt. Maj. Jared Carver. “I used to spend entire afternoons on the edge of the battalion lawn, chewing the hell out of any numbnuts who cut corners and stepped on my grass. But it seems like this new ASSS-HOL has got that job in the bag.”

“Which is—good. It’s great. I got plenty else, plenty else—you know, to, uh, do,” he said, trailing off and staring far into the distance, before wiping a single tear from his cheek, excusing himself, and striding briskly toward the entrance of the headquarters building.

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