Author Topic: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls  (Read 4006 times)

Online Narric

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Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« on: January 04, 2013, 05:31:57 PM »
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.
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Offline Lord Sotek

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2013, 06:34:48 PM »
Any of these is possible, but you've also forgotten direct mental control through a MIU (Mind-impulse Unit). A sophisticated but highly plausible control scheme that's right up the Tau's alley.

Basically, it's the exact same principle used to allow someone to control an augmetic limb in 40k, and the principle they're using to develop prosthetics people can control naturally, with their minds, in real life.

You have a computer system designed to interpret specific patterns of brain activity, and 'translate' those patterns into motor impulses for the suit. Get the accuracy of the computer's ability to translate properly up to a certain degree, and with relatively minimal accomodation training, an operator can use the unit to control the activity of the augmetic limb or battlesuit.

The most direct method would be to strap the Tau pilot in, and have the suit directly translate impulses sent to move the pilot's arms and legs etc. to move the arms and legs etc. of the battlesuit. However, this would more or less require the pilot to be immobilized so that they don't start 'walking about' in the confined space of the cockpit, and they wouldn't be able to use their limbs for other purposes.

Another possibility would be that the MIU is instead wired up so that the pilot learns to operate the battlesuit as an "extra" body and set of limbs. This might sound rather out there and unfeasible, but it turns out that the human brain is more than flexible enough to accommodate this sort of 'learning for extra limbs.' With the aforementioned real-life prosthetics, it's entirely possible to hook some of them up to a healthy and whole individual, and the two can be trained to have the user operate the prosthetic independently of their regular limbs. The training process is in effect a mutual learning endeavor, as both the human and the software in the arm learn and adapt to better work with each other until you eventually get seamless integration; the user thinks subconsciously about action, and the prosthetic does it, just like you think effortlessly about raising your arm and your arm raises.

This is because the human brain doesn't inherently "know" that your body parts are your body parts, or where they are in relation to each other. (The reason why babies can't walk, incidentally.) Instead, it *learns* how to have an effortless and instinctive spatial map of your limbs and body through constantly interpreting and integrating the inputs from all of your senses to constantly update and refine its model. The joyful side effect of this is that our brain's understanding of the body it controls is not set in stone, and when you provide new inputs (a set of robot limbs, for instance) it's actually relatively intuitive for the brain to register and incorporate this new information into your spatial perception and motor capabilities.

Tau brains are not exactly human brains because tau are not humans, but as someone who knows a fair bit about how the brain works and needs to work in a sentient species, I can tell you it's a very safe bet to assume that they're more than close enough in this respect for the same process to work. So you would have a Tau pilot in the cockpit of a battlesuit, surrounded by the anime-esque assortment of HUD and cockpit dials and whatsits, and he or she manipulates these with their own arms and legs. In addition to this, they are also neurally linked into the suit itself, and are controlling its motions as a near-literal "second body."

Finally. Aside from the plausibility factor, and the fact that a well-implemented MIU would account for the "impossibly smooth and fluid for a machine" motion the battlesuits are described to have, I'm dead sure that it's mentioned somewhere the pilots have neural links into their suits. The existence of a neural link means it's pretty much confirmed fact that the suits use a MIU, because it fits too well.  After all, it seems unlikely they'd go to the complexity and bother of a neural link just to give the pilot, say, a HUD, considering that there's ample space on the inside of the cockpit for said HUD without requiring invasive surgery on the operator.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 06:46:26 PM by Isaac Baraqiel »
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Online Narric

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2013, 06:52:32 PM »
Interesting read. I have to say I hadn't thought of that.

I think the closest to confirmation would be some scenes from the "Fire Warrior" Novel, where Kais' mentor suits up and takes to the battlefield himself.

I think those scenes possibly coloured my interpretation of the cotrol system(s).
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Offline Lord Sotek

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 06:57:07 PM »
incidentally, MIU's aren't even alien to 40k. They're the means by which a space marine controls a Dreadnought body, or a Princeps controls their titan. In fact, if some of the "Wired into the captain's chair" descriptions of Imperial Navy commanders or starship captains are looked at with some thought, it'd mean they're all over the place.
Often I hear delusional ramble like "I painted and collected my army as ultramarine tyranid hunters....but Pedro is really good, so now I'm using him, but I'm just going to call him Jimbob-Fistpumper, cause that fits with my

Online Narric

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2013, 07:11:04 PM »
I guess that simply raises the question of whether Tau would develop the same technology, or maybe they'd create a paralel technology>?>?>?
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Offline Lord Sotek

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2013, 07:26:57 PM »
I think what they've got is a parallel technology. The MIU systems the Imperium uses seem to be fairly crude; a Titan is not exactly a nimble or agile thing, and Dreadnoughts are pretty clunky too. Not to mention that a Titan's got its own personality and spirit that the Princeps has to avoid getting mindwiped or controlled by.

I'd wager both the Tau and the Imperium have MIU tech, but as is the nature of these things, the Imperium uses MIU tech that is rugged but clunky and that they don't understand very well at all. Whereas the Tau have put a lot more understanding and research into theirs, allowing for the seamless and agile integration of pilot and machine that we see in Tau battlesuits.

It does also go a fair ways to explain how the battlesuits are tied so closely to their pilot's ranking. If they're using sophisticated MIU's, which are basically cybernetic interfaces, then that means neurosurgery and a training regimen are neccesary to turn a promising fire warrior into a battlesuit pilot. So they're naturally going to pick the guys and girls who've already proved themselves to be ass-kicking badasses who've earned great commendations and promotions in service to the Greater Good.

There might also be psychological and emotional considerations in who can or can't be a battlesuit pilot, since you'd have to deal with the mental implications of training someone to operate two bodies in synch, and then that pilot being required to spend large amounts of time outside their 'second body.' I wager that to experienced battlesuit pilots, being outside your suit might well feel like you've lost limbs.
Often I hear delusional ramble like "I painted and collected my army as ultramarine tyranid hunters....but Pedro is really good, so now I'm using him, but I'm just going to call him Jimbob-Fistpumper, cause that fits with my

Offline Railgun Convention

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2013, 07:50:47 PM »
Alternatively, one thing I drew from that was that it's possible the pilot forgoes most control of his body in exchange for using the suit instead, so it'd be like having a body you could get in and out of. Which'd be freakin' weird until you get used to it.
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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2013, 09:25:36 PM »
Alternatively, one thing I drew from that was that it's possible the pilot forgoes most control of his body in exchange for using the suit instead, so it'd be like having a body you could get in and out of. Which'd be freakin' weird until you get used to it.
To my understanding, that is probably how the Imperium does it. Tau would probably want to be able to both move their body, as well as co-ordinate two team members, or two to five if we go to Stealth suits.
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Offline Mabbz

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2013, 11:21:43 PM »
If I understand you correctly, Isaac, you're saying that when they are in the battlesuit, they effectively have additional limbs, moved in the same way as ordinary ones. kind of like the robotic arm of doctor octopus, only probably without an AI system that could control the pilot. My question is, do they fire the weapons and use the jetpack and other systems in the same way (lots of extra limbs) or would they have a console inside for the extras features, and only control the arms and legs in the way you mentioned?

I personally always thought of it as being similar to Avatar, or the Matrix. They plug themselves in, effectively go to sleep and they dream that they're 10 feet tall and can fly.

I remember an old White Dwarf article that mentioned battlesuit configurations. I don't think it said how they were piloted, but it did talk about a condition called "battlesuit neurosis". Basically a pilot could forget he wasn't in his battlesuit (the article mentioned pilots forgetting they can't actually fly and jumping off cliffs in high pressure situations).

Aside from the more obvious issues like the one mentioned above, pilots could start to feel indestructible and even lose track of their "Tauness" (I can't think of a better word. Think Humanity, but for Tau). In effect, they would stop treating other Tau as people, and get huge superiority complexes. The article even suggested this as a possible explanation for Farsight going renegade.

According to the article, the Ethereals created an artificial shortage of battlesuits to prevent these problems. Battlesuit neurosis is the main reason the Tau don't field entire armies of battlesuits.

Offline The Man They Call Jayne

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2013, 02:25:32 AM »
I though it was Battlesuit Psychosis? A pilot gets one of his suits legs blown off and when he gets out of the suit he cant walk for a while because his mind believes that the leg isnt there anymore.
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Offline AmbroseNoda

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2014, 08:59:43 AM »
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.

Very very exciting thread.. Good amount of information about controls and cockpits..Really nice post.

Online Narric

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Re: Battlesuits - Pilots, Cockpits and Controls
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2014, 09:02:17 AM »
Do you have anything to add?

Also, quoting the entire OP isn't really needed :P
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