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Self Configuring Modular Robot (Chapter Cover)

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Chapter 2 - Self Configuring Modular Robot[]


Garrett Satcom Engineering department lab 18, Dalton, Free Worlds League, 3031...

"...do we know where it came from? Because this is more than a standard data-core." Phyllys Argent looked up as Mr. Lauber's voice penetrated her almost trance-like study of the find.

"Yeah, I guess." she shrugged, "The equipment is clearly from the peak of the Star League, the whole structure of the data-unit is superior in elegance and efficiency, the connections are all SLDF standard, and the power requirements are consistent with high-end networked data storage devices like the computers in some of those remnant Kanga hovercraft." she gestured at the far end of the bay, where a team of workers had stored the now-long-inoperable control matrix from an SLDF Kanga Hovertank, "but it's a hell of a lot more powerful."

"How much more?"

She leaned back in her wheelchair, and mused idly. "I'd say it's more powerful than you'd need to run a JumpShip. the architecture alone suggests that, but it's even more interesting what they put inside."

"So there is data stored in it?"

"Please..." she rolled her eyes, "YES sir, there is. heavily encrypted data, heavily encrypted, heavily compressed, it took me nearly six months to build a terminal powerful enough to read the data...and I had to be remarkably clever, which you already know sir, because you're here in my laboratory instead of just having your Assistant demand status reports."

"So...what did we find?"

She placed a hand on the arm of her chair, and the waldo extended, unfolding into a three-jointed arm with five universal manipulator 'fingers' to lift a cloth off of a screen.

"Nirasaki Computers Collective. The people who made the control systems for the Kanga Jump Tank, and the people who made the Caspar Drone systems." She told him, "This is a backup database of their in-house technical library. Millions of entries, very comprehensive, very complete."

He stared. "Complete?"

"Yeah, complete, including records of rejected proposals to the Terran Hegemony military and the Star League Defense Forces. People have died and their papers gone missing over less than what your contract scavengers put on my workbench, sir...a lot of people have died over less. Your lostech prospectors hit the damn jackpot. not just vague references to specifications, Mister Lauber, this core has instructions to make the tools to make the components to make the products we can't even fix with the military manuals...and the instructions to make the components for the tools and the papers they based the research off of to dream those components up. It's an industrial base in a five hundred kilogram can, just add workforce and tools."

He licked his lips. "You're sure?"

"I upgraded my chair." she told him, "It's not like having an unbroken spine, but I can empty my bag in the toilet without needing a helper now, and I might be able to make a frame so I can walk again instead of needing a ramp...and of course, the arms." she beamed up at him, "Which have their own attractions for a cripple like me. Yes, it's complete."

"We're going to need a product." he mused.

"I have found a few ideas-something we can get a march on the ****** Lyrans over, and maybe even sell to select customers."

"What kind of select customers?"

"Mining customers?" she shrugged, "Maybe some industrial uses. The proposal was written for the Terries, to handle mining and mineral extraction in 'unfriendly' environments where you don't want to waste people, and the numbers look pretty good, but the subtext was a discussion of possible military applications."

"A new 'mining mech'?"

"Sort of." her extra arms reached over to tap out a few commands on a keyboard. "Doesn't need more than a basic oversight in the loop-they're cheap, disposable, self-repairing, and modular."

The image showed an almost bug-like shape with cutting equipment buried into it's carapace. "Specs suggest it can also be used for 'active salvage' of hardened equipment." she added, "Which some of the notes suggest might be turned to a military application in site security with the seismic sensor, thermal, magnetic receptors and networked processors-the more you have, the smarter they get using a Heuristic algorithm and sharing processor space. Drop on a moon, or asteroid, they go to work. Come back in a few months..."

"Raw materials, already processed for shipping." He mused.

"Yeah. Safety for the company, lowered liability since you're not exposing large numbers of poorly trained employees to months in a space suit or environmental gear...and you don't have to pay them."

"and the military applications?" he asked.

"Change the program at the central 'queen' node, quick and dirty area-denial system made of smart mines." she shrugged, "or something to that effect, self-cleaning-up too, or you can use them to clear minefields and dismantle unexploded ordnance."

"...and cheap?"

"After we build the first one, they can build themselves." she shrugged, "Even work in improvements to a point...are you interested, Sir?"

"Color me interested, Doc. Color me interested. You're approved."

"Thank you, Sir."


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