An old blog post I'm bringing over here for more discussion. I laid it out a lot better on my blog, so hop on over through this link: http://the4thsphere.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/battlesuits-pilots-cockpits-and-controls.html
How do Tau Fire Caste Pilots control these towering machines? There are a fair amount of ways, and with each type of control comes alternate skills required.Mech Cockpit by DarkLostSoul86
The most obvious control system that everyone will recognize, is the standard "Mech Cockpit" layout we are sued to seeing in Anime and the like.
With this cockpit, the pilot has a huge array of information and data being set for his leisure to see. Its a fairly laid-back approach.
However, I doubt its would be much use for a Tau Battlesuit, due to the level of mobility control it has. The Mech Cockpit Linked above, to me, is only really useful for Bipedal tanks, like Metal Gear, or the Star Wars AT-ST.
Next is a action responsive system (my own name, don't quote me). This kind of sytem is heavily used in the Heavy Gear Franchise. Along with a "Neural-Net," a pilots moves are translated to the "Gears" movements, such as walking, or lifting their arms. The Neural Net allows for finer control, such as hand gestures, and gripping ledges.
This kind of system sounds close to what I'd believe the Tau would use, however. During the course of the TV Series (which is my easiest to access resource right now), Pilot movements did not translate 100%. This often gave the Gear, somewhat a life of its own. This could easily be put down to the neural-net taking more active action to ensure the protection of its pilot, but it could be very jarring at least.
The third system is utilized in the Mech-suit piloted by Deadpool, in Marvel Comic "Deadpool #23 - Viva Las Vegas!"
This mech-suit could be considered to work like a Gear, in that Pilot actions are translated to Mech-suit movement, however, the pilot has a severe lack of moving room, and controls the suit predominantly through their hands. The control system has the benefit of the pilot having almost "organic" view of the battlefield around him, as the Suits head, is the pilot's, with some light-armour to protect that natural hard-hat.
This system I believe comes very close to how I would imagine Tau battlesuits are controlled. Taking artwork as Canon, Tau battlesuits stand around one to three foot taller then a rank-and-file Space Marine, so for now we'll say they're 12foot tall. With this height, the pilot could easily sit/stand within the main body of the suit, controlling the suit with a Neural-net, and physical trigger-pulling.
A final system would account for the larger appearance of XV25 Stealth Suits. For this system I point you to the Bat-bot from the TV Series "The Batman."
This suit's control system used the pilots actual legs to control movement, with arm controls set-up in a similar way as Deadpools mech-suit. This meant the Bat-bot was a rough 8foot tall, which works well with XV25 suits being about the same size as a Space Marine.
This control system allowed for a great deal of mobility, even being pushes so far as to manage gymnastic feats when controlled by Batgirl.
Hopefully I've managed to put my thoughts down somewhat understandably. Please add your own ideas into the discussion, it would be great top hear how other Tau Empire enthusiasts would design a battlesuit control system.