Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Battlesuit Androids

           I’m indebted to a friend of mine for reminding me of this concept.

           In one of Gene Wolfe’s “Book of the New Sun” series Severian encounters a spacesuit with an advanced AI. The suit can move around and manipulate objects without an occupant. It is effectively a hollow centred robot and resents when Severian has occasion to wear it. The GURPS sourcebook for the New Sun series calls this an “Iron-class android”.

           A TS-era battlesuit has its own AI systems. It has sensors that the AI is capable of accessing. It probably has actuators to augment the wearer’s strength. It is therefore quite possible that many battlesuits can move around without a human occupant and can be used as cybershells for infomorphs.

           This has a number of potential applications. When a military unit is in action it will be more difficult to pick off the human controllers. Some of the battlesuits will be empty. If a soldier’s battlesuit is badly damaged he may be able to move into a nearby spare. If a soldier is unconscious or badly wounded the suit could evacuate him. In a SWAT scenario a rescued hostage or prisoner could be placed in a suit and the suit used to move them to a holding area. If a character is not in a battlesuit and is attacked they may be able to call one to their assistance from nearby. The latter idea is used a lot in the Iron Man films, Tony Stark’s suits automatically dressing him. TS-era battlesuits will have more modest abilities and need to be put on in the usual fashion. The potential of hacking a battlesuit or advanced spacesuit to infiltrate a location is possible, although military equipment such as this is likely to have very potent protective software.