We're mad I tell you, mad. Why else would we as a species go out of our way to make machines that look like spiders. Spiders are horrible creatures, they lurk, and destroy. They eat their own young, they eat their mates, they eat anything that falls into their webs. There are some that are insanely poisonous, others are super aggressive, and now we're making them out of ceramite and a ferro-aluminum? Giving them computer brains, and teaching them to use tools and weapons? We deserve to be exterminated for doing something this stupid.
Gidd, Technophobe and Neo-Luddite
The term arachnotron is given to almost any robot that has a long segmented body and articulated legs, as compared to the bipedal humanoid form of autons, or the rolling trash can design of the Stears-Cusick droid. An arachnotron has a three segmented body, consisting of a sensory cluster 'head', a central thorax that holds the control systems and computers of the machine, and an 'abdomen' that contains the power systems. The smallest arachnotron is three pounds and fourteen inches long, and is used in search and rescue operations and some surveillance ops. The largest is the Orb Weaver, an industrial mining robot that has legs that are close to 200 meters in length. The Weaver is operated in the asteroid belt where is it used to gather asteroids together, and to feed them into refinery ships after it cuts them into smaller pieces with one of the largest industrial lasers in the solar system.
Stability, reliability, ease of maintenance, low cost of operation, these are all things that apply to the arachnotron. The machinery is all easy to access, making it quicker and easier for technicians to diagnose problems and make repairs. Is it a faulty machine, needing repairs? The arachnotron is intended for use in industrial applications, mining, exploration, materials handling. It is going to be in the hands of human operators and synthetic intelligence. They are going to be subjected to the worst abuses of human and machine ineptitude, it is going to constantly require repairs. The sensor cluster is easily changed, the power management system is held on with just four bolts. The front two legs and the micro-arms attached to the thorax are easily swapped out for a large variety of tool-arms. These range from basic things such as cargo claws and cutting torches to more complex things like hand manipulators, beam weapons, and precision tools.
Elin Mosiac, technologist
The arachnotron was a brainchild of the roboticist John P. Ariados, who famously said that humans waste the potential of robots by forcing them to look like humans. The human body, he argued, evolved from a omnivorous ape with emphasis on low speed pursuit predation and sexual reproduction. Forcing a machine to walk on two gangly legs, to carry vestigial human attributes, to robotically ape the movement of humanity, was a phenomenal waste of a large portion of it's computational power and to limit it's potential.
Ariados' new machine made no attempt to mimic humanity, instead it looked to insects and arachnids, which were closer in form to the robot than humans ever would be. The jointed carapaces, segmented bodies, and articulated limbs were almost robotic in design, it was just a matter of translating chitin into metal and plastic. Ariados' created his Ariados 1.0 Arachnotron as an industrial machine, to work in mines, refineries, and factories. It was low slung, didn't require high ceilings, and only a minimum of safety equipment. The machine was capable of climbing scaffolding, and could raise and lower itself along a web of cables suspended around a central machine. It also had the ability to move where the cables were hung, adjusting them supports to where it needed them to be.
Spiders, people don't like spiders. They're sneaky, and mean. I like that in a fighting machine.
The Arachnotron's first major supporter was the military, who used the machines for recon operations. The robot spiders could go places people couldn't. They weren't thwarted by walls, were had to hit by snipers, and when it came time to fight, the limb and thorax mounted weapons proved impressive. The arachnotron hunter was never intended to fight at long range, so most of them are equipped with short range pulse carbines, small progressive blades, and in the instance of the Machado Warspider, a flamethrower, and a thorax mounted twin mini missile launcher.
Fucking war spiders, I mean fucking war spiders. As if war couldn't get any worse, with giant robots and flying battleships, and the soulless hordes of skeletrons and mutant supersoldiers. Then we had to start dealing with spider marines. They pop hatches and come swarming into your ship. They are dropped in pods, dozens spilling out like a fucking nightmare. They're fast and hard to hit, and the SmartGun system tweaks out because it's trying to get a shooting solution on a blur of legs and it's looking for a head or a center mass and it's just confused. Then the damned things were on us, all claws and red eyes, barfing fire and steel flechette rounds everywhere.
The original arachnotron was an industrial automoton, and had a modular tool system. This allowed a small number of machines to be configured for a variety of tasks, rather than having a large number of machine with a narrow focus. While rarely seen, these machines are common, scuttling around in the infrastructure of the megacities.
Military arachnotrons are less common, as they are not used for stand up fights. These sneaky machines are used in shadowrun ops, counter-shadowrun ops, and in areas where discretion and firepower are valued more than shock and awe.
Search and Rescue arachnotrons exist, and are used in subterranean rescue, space ops, mining recovery, and other confined space work. These white and red machines are a welcome sight, and have done a great deal to undermine the nefarious image of the spider bot.
The Arachnotron serves a narrow role in the Cosmic Era, these are the out of sight, out of mind machines that keep the world running. Seeing an arachnotron is generally a sign that something has gone wrong, or you've ended up on the wrong side of a shadowrun.
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? Responses (2)
I really like your writing, as always. The intro text is also remarkably to-the-point.
- I.R.L spider legged robots make most sense in underwater / low-g environments / small-scale as otherwise they are excessively flimsy
- I'd be terrified of a swarm of tiny arachnotrons too, no need to limit the smallest to 14' long
Interesting, though I would not have positioned them as a new creation by a specific scientist - insectoid robots are under heavy development currently.
Our current technological speed makes near-future sci-fi an interesting area to work with - seemingly everything reasonably plausible from a technological or economic - or moral - basis has a chance to appear soon.