Thursday, November 29, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: Nitpicking the Gunbot

original at
How does the Gunbot measure up to everything else?
In the last post we created a Gunbot Mark I, a 200 lb autonomous tank built with the spaceships system. We made four tweaks, to get there, extrapolating size and adding an onboard computer to be the AI. So now we have our beautiful little robot, and we're ready to test him against the other robots in gurps, as well as some humans, to see how his stats measure up.

Most of the comparisons will be about other combat robots weighing from 100 to 300 lbs. Robot is a diverse term, and machines engineered for different purposes will have different statistics. By focusing on combat robots, we will hopefully be comparing apples to apples, or at least apples to pears. Size also makes these comparisons more valid: size has a large effect on most of a robots statistics.

I'm going to talk about the flaws in spaceships a lot. Don't interpret this as me disliking spaceships. I love the series. That's why I'm using it as the base for these robots. Spaceships is the starting point for this system, if you don't own the books, you won't get much out of these posts. If I did not believe in its basic structure, I would not try to improve it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: A Simple Gunbot

What do you know? The army is working on one too!
Last post we talked about why we're undertaking this project, and what our starting point is. Our next step is to build the simplest war-bot we can imagine. The Gunbot Mark I is an SM+0 vehicle that carries a weapon into battle on treads. Its essentially a miniature tank with an AI on board. We will start building it with spaceships, and discuss the obstacles as they come up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spaceships: How Tough Should Armor be?

In preparation for my robots as spaceships project, I built a "Tank Bot", a small tracked vehicle meant to carry a gun into battle. I was surprised that the famed "Eggshells with Hammers" paradigm didn't go away. My SM +0 robot had 60 lbs of TL 8 armor that gave it a paltry 10 DR. I came to the conclusion that armor as described in spaceships doesn't just not scale well, its not strong enough even without scaling. It doesn't protect the spaceship, and it doesn't compare well to the numbers given in High Tech, Ultra Tech, or even Low Tech. Here, I'm going to discuss what the damage reduction on the armor types given in spaceships should be, by doing a book by book comparison of how the spaceship's numbers compare to the armor in High Tech, Ultra Tech, and yes, even Low Tech.

We're going to show that spaceships armor is weaker than it should be, but more importantly, we're going to find out how strong it should be.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: Theory and Systems

spacecraft spaceship by
GURPS has a lot of templates for robots and drones, scattered in various products and series.  Reign of Steel features menagerie of robots meant to hunt down and kill humans. Ultra-Tech presents robots with an aim for utility, from a simple porter to the bizarre bush robot. Transhuman space dazzles us with a  bewildering variety of shells for purposes both general and niche, exotic and everyday. But none of them have a "system" for building robots and drones. Either a book has a template for that size and shape of robot, or you build the template yourself. Sometimes tweaking a template will get good results, but more often than not I find myself needing things very different from existing templates.

Robot 1 by Diversity Avatars.
Now, the fact that Gurps lets you make up stats in an intelligent manner is awesome. The book advertises "Anything you can Imagine", and I love that promise. But I still feel that there is room for a robot design system. Something between a handful of templates and the wide solution space of building from scratch.