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Total posts: [7]
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Do these mecha sound reasonably justified?:

Ave Imperator
First thing's first, this setting I'm working on, which is a combination of Post Cyber Punk and Space Opera, is intended to score around a 3 on Mohs Scale Of Scientific Hardness, due to the presence of a Subspace Ansible (no fTL travel though). Mechs, called Body Tanks (technically a catch all term for any nonorganic platform for uploaded consciousnesses) in this setting, range between 12 and 20 feet in height, and are generally somewhat humanoid in shape. They generally don't have anything in the way of a distinct head, and many variants lack arms. Body Tanks are not piloted in a conventional sense, they would be far to impractical for any form of conventional control system, and a waste of processing power for an ordinary computer assisted control system. Rather, an operators is "linked" into Body Tank through cybernetic interfaces (people with such implants are called gestalts) and remotely control the machine from afar, a process often mistaken with "hard" (permanent, and destructive) mind uploading.
Operators linked into a body tank have a far superior situational awareness to individuals using conventional remote control systems, lack all of the major drawbacks of drones, and can make far more direct use of the brain's processing power than humans using conventional control systems. The humanoid shape of body tanks is a significant engineering issue, and makes them very difficult to hide, but has several advantages. Compared to gestalts uploaded into more conventionally designed body tanks, those using humanoid shaped body tanks find the system much more natural to use, and generally display significantly faster reaction times in combat than their counterparts.
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 2 Major Tom, Wed, 23rd Mar '11 7:57:34 PM Relationship Status: Barbecuing
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Shape wise I get the feeling Body Tanks are more or less similar to Titans. Only unmanned in a sense.

So this is believable to a pretty good degree.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
The Joke-Master
[up][up] From a tech standpoint, I guess they work. Mechs never really make any sense from a tactical standpoint, though. They have a much higher profile than tanks, and aren't able to travel as fast, while their size and lack of agility makes it impossible for them to really evade heavy weaponry. They wouldn't be much more than big, obvious targets.
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Ave Imperator
The height advantage would give a mech an advantage in visible range combat against armored ground targets (it has a longer line of sight, and therefore superior range), though BVR weapons are extremely commonplace in today's world. Depending on how large and dextrous the legs are and how balanced the machine is, they might be able to clear obstacles that treaded vehicles couldn't. Assuming their "feet" are smaller than tank treads, they'd be much less likely to step on an IED, and therefore less vulnerable in that regard.
That said, none of that changes the fact that a mech would be even more vulnerable to aircraft strikes and infantry deployed anti-armor munitions than modern armored vehicles, be impossible to camouflage, and would need a system to pick itself up if it falls over to avoid even more issues in that regard.
In story, the only reason humanoid body tanks are viable in combat is the ease of control for the unit's operator. Conventionally designed body tanks require a great deal more training, and, in exercises with neural accelerators turned off, tend to perform slightly worse than ordinary remotely driven systems.
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 5 joeyjojo, Thu, 24th Mar '11 6:12:13 AM from South Sydney: go the bunnies! Relationship Status: Drift compatible
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'in real life' I can't see mechs being use for much more that perhaps mobile artillery for very mountainous terrain. But from a fictional lens the mechs in question seem fairly believable.

edited 24th Mar '11 6:12:29 AM by joeyjojo

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Ave Imperator
You know, this conversation probably belongs in world building, on second thought...
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Greater height is usually cited as an advantage for mechs, but as I see it, if there were ever some situation where the advantage of height was that substantial, the practicality of simply sticking an elevated turret on a base similar to a tank's would come up before a mech's design.

I suppose that if the mechs were already built, they wouldn't bother making that kind of vehicle, but that relies on the idea that someone had wanted the mechs around to begin with, and for that, you'd need to have some very specific role mechs performed best that didn't come only from their height.

That usually means terrain that is extremely unsuitable for conventional vehicles, or too cluttered for them to turn in easily. And that usually means locations such as steep mountain slopes, or in dense forests or urban environments. However, these areas afford infantry tons of cover to approach and fire from, so there would need to be a pretty significant reason that such a location is worth risking so much heavy equipment on (as opposed to say, bombing it to smithereens, moving on to a different location, just sending in mobs of their own infantry, etc).

(And by the way, even though a mech might have a slightly smaller ground profile than a conventional vehicle, their legs make them perhaps even more vulnerable to IED's once those have gone off, and that much harder to fix once they're busted)

That aside, I also think it's important to point out how adaptable the brain is. It already seems capable of very easily recognizing how to use plenty of brain-computer interfaces, and it has shown compatibility with everything from cybernetic hands that have touch-sensitivity, to implanted devices that can aid with sight. I'm not entirely convinced that it would be that much more difficult for a pilot to pick up on a traditional tank's controls if they were ported into a more direct brain-interface.

Keep in mind that even if the mech is far more human-like than a tank, it does not mean the design would exactly mirror human anatomy. A multi-story gun platform with robotic legs is probably not going to have many practical reasons to be built as our towering metallic counterparts, when you consider issues of stability and mobility at that height and weight. This would mean that the legs would 'feel' completely different to a pilot compared to their own experience of walking. Balancing, be it without arms or while firing guns with heavy recoil, would likewise not be something analogous to a human's regular gait or posture.

I'm not sure I can really get behind the idea that the pilot is the one providing the 'balancing programs, ' without having something like an inner-ear sensor that relays information to the pilot like their own body would, along with quite a bit of practice with this new set of legs. While the 'main computer' would be elsewhere, the various sensors and the mechanisms required to help a pilot balance would still need to be on board the mech. And of course, there's the issue that if all of this is done remotely, then once communication fails in a combat setting, the thing will fall right over unless you include redundant programs on board anyway.

Perhaps you have something different in mind when you talk about these neural controls, however...
 
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