Thursday, August 21, 2008

eustace the happy fun-time killbot

military mecha, for the imaginary civilization thingie:

being a nerd, i've actually put ridiculously huge amounts of time into working out structural and functional junk, trying to redesign the wheel, i suppose. in my foolish youth, i would just design whatever looked cool; unfortunately, over the years i've become obsessed with trying to think beyond that, into the core needs and functions of machines i design. (or more precisely, first i try to think of what RESULTS would be best called for in a given situation, then work backwards towards the basic design that could achieve those results, then what sort of technology would be necessary to make the design workable.) which is why it has such scrawny and uncool bug legs, for example. fortunately, i don't have the energy to type it all out, which means you don't have to waste your time reading it!

because i'm all about you.

ps - no, it's name is not "eustace". that was a trick.


Adam Synapse said...

Well if your not stay true to you nerdiness I might as well try to deconstruct what could be one of the best designed robots. By the way are you a Kieth Thompson fan by any chance? Epic robot designs.

Lets see, hmm. Well it seems that with the absence of any traditional on-board weaponry Im guessing this is a scouting robot. Its small and compact body serve to increase its aerodynamics while the long rudder acts as a stabilizer.
The thick, re-enforced hind legs lead me to think that like the common flea this badboy gets around by some, possible Ang Lee Hulk-like jumping. What I believe to be jets on its legs and shoulders only increase its aerial maneuverability in case of some dog fights. The smaller, folded arms allow the machine to interact with its enviroment while the large, thinner ones give its body's some support from the front. Im guessing that they could also be used for some basic scratching and clawing. Just to really nerd out Im guessing the pieces which mimic the hair on a flea's legs act as a set of sensors to check and monitor the environment sending information such as temperature, wind direction stuff like that.

Again brilliant design. So how'd I do?

Jake said...

Yeah, great design! Thanks for thinking of us, but some of us love all the technical speak. I like Adam's evaluation of the design.

J. F. Souza said...

Hello, Ben. I am a big fan of your work and your cartoons have a big influence in my cartoons. Sorry my poor english. I am brazilian and I wish to present to you my blog:
And I just want to thank you for your tutorials that help me so much. I hope some day be an artist like you and I am working to this.
Thank you very much once more.

Kactiguy said...

You had me with the skull in the window. Sweet.

ben c said...


adam, jake - well, your thoughtful replies have shamed me into explaining the mecha. all of your suggestions were interesting, some were correct! so here are the unnecessary details (don't know kieth thompson, i'll have to look him up)...

this design is actually the standard mecha* model for the ibilisi revolutionary state, which occupied/ liquidated large swaths of the earth in the "famine wars" of the late 21st century. all mecha of the time** is modular — that is, weapons and specialized accessories are plugged in to the core unit, allowing for easy customization, parts replacement etc. so this model is shown without additions, but is in fact the main assault model, with functions similar to a modern tank. its specs are roughly 7'lx3'hx4.5'w for the torso, with standing height of 7', and the weight is roughly 1,400lbs.°more specialized mecha range from unmanned scouts, roughly the size of a football, to shield tanks the size of a house.
VR models (shown here) are not robots, but mecha piloted by a human inside (or what might loosely be described as a human remnant). like similar mecha, its hull is not steel but a cultured, cellular bioresin made up of trillions of rubbery, microscopic bubbles. it is less rigid than steel (the "bubbles" acts as a super dense sponge), so that most concussion trauma is absorbed by the entire body. thus, if an explosive shell normally punched 1,000lbs of pressure into a square foot of tank surface, here that punch would be spread over 200 square feet of mecha surface, meaning each individual foot of surface would only absorb about 50lbs of pressure. also, because it has a much higher center of gravity than a tank, a VR is much easier to blow off the ground — but much of the concussion is wasted in lifting it. conversely, a tank is so heavy and squat that it absorbs the trauma directly into its hull, suffering greater damage. (of course, the VR still suffers concussive trauma, both in the hit and in the subsequent crashing around, but it is less relative trauma, and as it is spaced out over time, it can be more easily absorbed.) finally, the bioresin reacts to oxygen, so that the shell forms a surface film (hence the "polished" look) that minimizes contamination by anything from dust to chemical weapons. since this reaction is automatic and chemical, if any of the shell is damaged, new film develops on the newly exposed areas.°°
in locomotion, the VR and similar mecha have pros and cons compared to wheeled/tracked vehicles, but mecha are more responsive to the specific needs and tactics of future wars. limbs are slower, more complicated and more vulnerable to damage than tracks. however, while mecha run at top speeds much slower than tanks, they are both lighter and more maneuverable through rough, narrow, or vertical terrain. in terms of motion, mecha are far superior in that they can skitter out of fire, while a tank cannot. this is a reflection of the growing practice of urban warfare, as well as specialized combat situations like crowd control, which demand more finesse than tanks can provide. the VR are designed with a thick torso and upper limbs, and thin lower limbs. this makes its silhouette much smaller than most tanks, while the lower limbs are as thin as possible to minimize their profile. limbs reflexively go limp if the mecha is knocked over, to minimize breaking. the secondary limbs are tucked under the torso when not in use, but act as manipulators to clear items, open doors, and the like. they also act as spare limbs if primary limbs are disabled. the "hairs" are indeed external environmental sensors. they are placed at the extremities partly because those are the most endangered parts of the mecha, partly because wider dispersal means wider spread of sensory intake, especially allowing for more complex 3D sensory models to be constructed by the mecha.
the segmented shell (and internal structure) allow for greater mobility. they also allow for greater spine movement, so that (like a cheetah) the mecha has a greater extent of limb movement, and the entire body absorbs the shock of running. this reduces wear, and is essential for the necessarily slender lower limbs.
one problem for the bug-like movement of the limbs is that is can generate considerable heat. not only can this impair internal functions, but it makes the mecha more visible to energy/heat sensors. the orange vents on the limbs are heat dumps, which cool off the mecha and create a broad, vague heat signature that is still easy to spot, but harder to pinpoint.
the front plate is solid armor, with the trademark skull of the ibilisi state. this is purely a psychological, as the plate is simply access to the interior. its visual emphasis terrorizes noncombatants, and draws fire away from more vulnerable parts.

*in this world, "mecha" describes any machine with segmented parts (limbs, torso etc) as a fundamental feature. all non-segmented military machines are "tanks"
**the "purification" movement of the mid 21st century gave birth to what we would consider mecha, which evolved in various states.
°VERY rough guessing
°°later, more advanced models would actually re-grow the shell itself.

thanks jf! i'll have to check out your site and get back to you.

kactiguy - just wait 'til the dessicated guts stuff. yay!