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Mechanical Life in the Cosmic Era

By:

Droids, Drones, and the Neo-Cortex.

Appearances Matter

There are a variety of types or recognized classes of artificial beings.

  • Robots and Computers are the oldest, and are noted for being stationary objects, rather than humanoids or vehicles. If possible, less is thought of these machines in the Cosmic compared to the modern era.
  • Drones are vehicles that have neo-cortex brains, but have no other 'robot' parts. Drones are common in logistics and military structures.
  • Androids and Gynoids are humanoid replicas and the high end models can pass for human. The low end models are known as autons.
  • Mechanoids are everything else not designed to look human.
  • Mechadroids are droid mechs.
  • Machina are droid vehicles of exceptional size.

History

Artificial humans have been a part of myth and legend for thousands of years, and while the Petroleum Era saw the first tottering remote control machines, and self driving vehicles it wouldn't be until arcanotech started spreading, and the neo-cortex was developed that the dream of fully functional robot companions would be realized. While there are many technologies at work in even the most pedestrian auton, the most import piece of tech is the neo-cortex.

The Neo-Cortex was born from parallel development with the artificial brain. As scientists, bionicists, and cyberneticists worked to create replacement parts of the brain, an equally devoted team was using their breakthroughs and designs to construct an electronic brain without any biological components. They were successful much sooner than their cyborg brain companions as the requirements for a primitive plastic brain were much less stringent than for a functional human transplant. These primitive neo-cortices are still very common and are used in manual labor robots such as menial servitors, industrial, and logistic mechanoids and droids. Once the core neo-cortex was designed, it set off an explosion of licensed production, stolen and copied designs and reverse engineering projects designed to blaze new paths through the technology of the robot brain.

Neo-Cortex Rating

  • HH - HH class Neo-Cortices are the most primitive units, and while they are easily as powerful as most Petroleum era computers, these units are able to handle walking, avoiding hitting things, and possessing limited vocabularies, limited reasoning skills, and are suited for repetitive tasks such as industrial applications, mining, and other dangerous occupations. (Max skill level - introductory)
  • HE - the HE class Neo-Cortex is the standard issue class of unit used in most civilian drones, and production level autons. Movement is still mechanical and jerky, and speaking patterns are still very stilted and robotic, but the machines with these brains can be functional comparable to young children. (Max Skill level - basic competence)
  • HN - the HN class Neo-Cortex is competent and capable, but has limited faculties. These are the most common level of brain used in skeletrons and other combat robots. Smart enough to be functional, but cheap and expendable. (max skill level - Intermediate)
  • HS - the HS class Neo-Cortex is comparable in function to a normal human being. A robot with a HS neo-cortex can carry on conversation easily, and be programmed to carry out a variety of skills with a degree of competence. At this level, the brain can be programmed with 'Synthetic Intelligence' and predicative software for the appearance of a personality. (Max Skill level - Advanced)
  • HSS - the HSS class of neo-cortex is rare, as these units are very expensive to make, and only a few places have the skill and equipment to make these units on a human robot size. (Max skill level - human max or better)

Most humanoid scale robots are limited by how large their neo-cortex can be, as the robot still has to make internal room for a power system, and any other components required by it's occupation. This means that most human sized robots are only going to be as smart as a normal intelligent person, albeit with a few innate abilities like being really good at traditional math, remembering things, and so forth. (neo-cortices of this size are not capable of processing anything but the most basic level arcanotech based mathematics.) Some droid manufacturers attempt to remedy this limitation by having skill chips that can swapped out, mounting exocranial cyberdecks, and using a CogNet based larger computer remote control a number of robot bodies.

Construction Techniques

Most robots are not made of anything close to military grade materials, and just as most robots are only human level smart, most are only human level strong. Only industrial and military grade droids are able to bend steel with their bare hands. Most robots have a chassis made of carbon fiber and plasteel (a synthetic metallic plastic) which supports their power source, neo-cortex and special tools specific to each unit. Gynoid and android models have a outer shell designed to look human, and some do this well, using silicone polymers and hydrostatic gels for lifelike skin, others just look plastic. Movement is provided by low grade, low tensile strength myomers. These synthetic fibers contract like muscles, so most robots are built with such locomotion in mind. Some have enhanced strength options with either better grade myomers, or hydraulic (rare) boosters, or servo motors.

Just as space is at a premium in most droids, so is weight. The average human is close to 140 lbs, and most systems are designed around this weight and size. Having a human sized robot come tromping through at 500 lbs is just going to make a mess. As such, the materials chosen for their construction are picked for a balance of weight as well as strength. This does make droids much more destructible compared to their portrayal in popular media. Obviously military and heavy load bearing models can and often are much stronger, heavier, and tougher than an average human.

Sizes

Small - small droids are very common, and range from artificial pets to iKids cybernetic children. A good number of flight capable drones, messengers, and avian form droids are this size. Robots of this size are easy to damage, and are noticeably weak.

Medium - human sized robots are very common, with many examples.

Large - On scale with power armor avatars, the large robots are a good deal stronger and tougher than humans, but are frequently handicapped with lower grade neo-cortices. Logistic, mining, and other hazardous jobs are handled by these large machines.

Very Large - It is possible to fit things as large as mecha and aerospace craft with larger more powerful neo-cortices that turn said vehicles into very large droids. Commonly known as mechadroids, this term applies to almost any vehicle larger than an automobile with a neo-cortex. Also known as megadroids, magnadroids, and droidekas.

Extremely Large - There are some unique machines of colossal size, earth borers, bucket excavators, and such, and some of these machines have been automated with neo-cortices, creating droids that are as large as buildings. There are military versions that are massive gun turrets, or even armed crawlers, and other strange things. These units are commonly called machina, and are rare.

Seibertronian Connection

A small number of neo-cortices, when powered up, go haywire for a few minutes, then reboot rewriting their internal programming, strange patterns and algorithms run through them, and a new lifeform is born. A seibertronian isn't just an intelligent machine, there are millions of intelligent machines in the Cosmic Era. A Seibertronian is a machine with a will and an identifiable soul. (demonstrated by pandimensional photography aka kirlian lenses).

What makes a robot or droid into a Seibertronian? Certain anomalies are drawn to the cortex as it powers up, stirring it's LCL fluid bath, and sending power through dense meshes of circuits and buses. The anomalies influence the cortex, disrupting it's floating point internal programming. The anomaly and the existing programming are scrambled, but a new string of code is generated, and from that, there grows a dimensional shadow known as a soul, and from that true intelligence.

Roles

Droids, robots, etc serve as the tireless backbone of the Cosmic Era, the egoless servitors, and the unquestioningly loyal companions. These machines are common, especially in the First world, where they do the menial, unpleasant, and unwanted jobs in the cities, and carry weapons and are the rank and file of conventional infantry.

The Robot has an advantage over the clone, there are no human sentimentalities involved with damaged robots, or decommissioning robots after their jobs are done. The machines are nothing more than polite and articulate property. Robots are routinely treated poorly, especially outside of arcos and other gleaming clean locations. They are vandalized, often the target of anti-robot riots, cyberwarfare attacks, and a convenient scapegoat for human hostility, human lust, and a generally accepted form of racism and discrimination.

We don't serve there kind here!



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Comments ( 1 )
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Voted valadaar
February 19, 2014, 8:26
0xp
Great background detail. The intermingling of Arcanatech helps make this more unique.

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