The original push for the Surrogate Robot floundered, and it did so spectacularly. The machine was entirely too expensive, and it was marketed to one of the worst demographics. Don't give me that soft-hearted shit. You aren't going to move social machines by showing their users being paraplegics, shut-ins, and emotional cripples. Instead of a luxury item, it's a medical crutch. Combine that bad PR with the price tag, it was a wonder that they sold the handful that they did.
You've got to find a market you can corner, a way to make people buy what you are selling. The Expy is going to address both of those things. They are cheap, damn cheap. They look cheap, but that's fine, it's the base model, and once people find they like the base model and see the blinged out models the celebs are using, they'll upgrade.
The Expy auton is a simple machine, utilizing mass production technology, and a minimalist design philosophy. The Expy doesn't attempt to look human, it doesn't have a human face, it has a faceplate. The limbs are proportioned for a robot body, with no effort made to hide it's artificial nature. By doing this, the Expy is remarkably cheap, and avoids the uncanny valley phenomenon.
Sophistication Through Simplicity: The STS Expy is the utilitarian version of the utilitarian auton. No expense was spent on it's construction. Almost every part of the STS is plastic or synthetic materials, with the only solid materials being in the power core and the connectivity system to link it to the user. The STS Expy is typically monochrome, either white or black, and counters it's ultracheap construction with being fairly well designed appearance wise. The STS is readily available, and the cheapest option on the market. It is favored for tourist use, auton fleet use, and corporate use for cogni-commuting. (Apple)
Atompunk: The AP Expy is solidly built with ferroceramic and ferro-plastic components and is both stylistically impressive, and durable. The most expensive Expy, the AP has a power generator instead of batteries, and can go long periods of time without maintenance. The AP Expies are used in industrial applications, exploration (such as climbing major mountains, like scaling Everest, or the mountains and geography of other planets in the solar system)
Gaspunk: Harkening back to the petroleum era's concept of robots, the Gaspunk expy is a normal expy, sans and outer shell. All the components are explosed, mimicking the almost skeletal/grotesque style of robotic prevalent during the Petroleum Era. Gaspunk expies aren't made so much as they are customized by their owners. Gaspunking is often the first step in turning a basic Expy into a cosplay unit, historial reenactment, or otherwise custom mod. Gaspunking an expy is considered poor taste, and strutting around in a gaspunk expy is the Cosmic equivalent of strutting around wearing a sock around your genitals and waving at the neighbors.
Artpunk: Artpunk is a common and popular expression of the Expy, with almost everything going into the appearance of the unit and not changing any of the mechanics underneath. Artpunk expies are used in performance, theatre, entertainment, and for people who are interested in the surrogate experience without dropping the money required for a full replica auton, or human facsimile quality droid. The plurality of expies are artpunk, with the shell being functionally a marketing device for the manufacturer and corporate sponsors. Do you want an Aeropostale, Federation Eagle, Mossy Oak, etc official Expy, or something from the catalog?
The initial purpose of the surrogacy program was to provide the means for a life for those who were either physically, mentally, or socially disabled and were unwilling or unable to cope with and interact with large numbers of people. Engineers and scientists for Nova Robotics discovered that the use of a robot surrogate allowed for users to experience life through the machine. They were not triggered by their social or mental disabilities, anxieties, or other issues that made life difficult. The crippled could experience walking through machine legs again. The Surrogacy Initiative failed as the machine was cost comparable to a sports car, and was being marketed to people who were frequently on limited incomes. The death knell of the Surrogacy Initiative came when a veteran lost his composure, and sent his Surrogate on a two hour violence and vandalism spree that wounded dozens, killed half as many, and disrupted internal services in an arco for several hours.
The replacement for the widescale use of surrogacy autons was the Expy. Being made of conventional materials, the machines are often less capable than an equivalent sized person. While they retained the endurance and reliability of machines, they lost the advantage of strength and durability. This was considered acceptable as the unit cost dramatically decreased with the lighter components, and the expectation of relatively short operating lifespans. The original surrogate autons were expected to last twenty to thirty years with basic maintenance and then could last quite a while after that with overhauls and as needed component replacement. The new Expy had a three to five year lifespan, with the expectation of being refurbished or recycled into new components for a new generation of cheap autons.
The benefit of the new surrogacy program is actually the high turn over of machines, as the manufacturers found ways to improve the performance of the machine, allowing it to become cheaper, and lighter without losing range or ability. These improvements almost always find their way over into larger and more durable robotics and automation. One of the major breakthroughs was the creation of ceramo-plastics, also called glastic. This hybrid material resisted wear better than normal plastics, was cheaper than ferroplastics, and once worn out, was easy to recycle back into pellet form for remolding.
Additional Ideas (1)
Only the truly desperate or lunatic would use these things for combat, but there are 4 models available for just such a purpose!
"Swazy" This bot has the rudimentary abilities of a bouncer, only the DARKEST of dives use them as they sometimes interpret dancing as a fight. Programmed to grapple only, Some 3rd world countries use them for crowd control.By far the most common.
"Rambo" armed with an integral smg this bot can only distinguish another "Rambo" as a friend.Has 2 settings. Shoot at ANYBODY shooting.or Shoot at everybody. Technically used for security, in reality more are sold to terrorists.
"Dillon" armed with integral automatic pistol, used as ride along for Low tech police or security, programmed to shoot at what it's assigned officer is shooting at.
"Einstein" basically a "Swazy" that has far better programming and will not attack dancers. Also capable of striking in addition to grappling.