Vehicles, Powersuits and Drones : Open Source

This archive has been compiled by AI user Camilla.

It references the most common types of open-source blueprints for utility vehicles in settled space. All of these designs are virtually ubiquitous by the virtue of having been public domain for decades, sometimes centuries.



Oh, this thing is old. It predates faster than light travel by at least a century. It's a pure product of the late Low Age. A tough, reliable, versatile ground vehicle capable of adapting to any environment and case use. Name something, the EPR can do it. It's compact, it can be pressurized, it can carry about anything you want and it has cute little manipulator arms that can be used to move cargo and objects around. Propulsion is electrical and powered by an engine block that can accommodate several types of standardized power-producing units, from biofuel engines to small fission reactors. Easy to drive once you get accustomed to its main quirk - like all electric vehicles the EPR has a lot of torque.


Well, technically I guess we are talking about EPRs turned into mining/excavation vehicles but I do not think this description is entirely accurate. I've seen these things pop up here and there outside of Communal Space and...I don't know, I guess an EPR can be used for excavation but mining apparatuses also make for decent weaponry. Sub-surface displacement missiles or high-pressure water drills can turn a peaceful EPR into a mining rig and an improvised combat vehicle. It won't stand a chance in a fair fight because it has no armour to speak of but it can definitely score a hit or two. I suggest we keep an eye on such open-source patterns when they appear.


Ah, mechs. I've never been a great fan. Wheels have served us well for millennia, I don't see why we should ditch them just because we now have the possibility to have stable legged designs and the autopilots to drive them. Well I guess putting four legs on an EPR and calling it a "Moon-Pattern variant" just to flex on Earth-bound designs is typical of the Moon Communes that designed this thing and I shouldn't put too much thought into it's weird. I can't help but feel EPRs should keep wheels. Anyway, regardless of my considerations this is a decent evolution of the original rover. Four legs may offer better stability on rugged terrain and the ground pressure isn't ridiculously high which is uncommon for a mech. Don't expect to drive it without autopilot though.


Some people think qith Saïmour wanted to have their own version of the Earth-Pattern Rover purely out of spite but I don't think it's quite fair to the Eloran commune. The Simurgh is an honest attempt at modernizing the EPR and not just a rip-off. It's smaller yet has more internal space due to miniaturization and the wheel design offers better manoeuvrability at the expense of simplicity. I am very partial to the enclosed, spaceship-like cockpit which offers better protection and more comfort though I understand why some people don't like having to rely on external cameras. One important deviation from the original EPR is the engine, which only runs on standard batteries - a choice that was influenced by the ship-bound origin of qith Saïmour.


At first glance, the Nomad is what happens when you try to mix an EPR and a Simurgh but this design is more than a ramshackle hybrid assembled by bored engineers on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I think the fairest classification I could give it is "space caravan". The Nomad removes the manipulator arms and most of the non-essential equipment to maximize internal space and make way for habitation modules and environmental control systems. A keen eye might have noticed that the bubble-shaped cockpit is heavily inspired by ship escape pods - the resemblance is intentional, as the Nomad is designed to be assembled from discarded ship parts. In the advent of planetary colonization, the Nomad would make a perfect mobile home for the settlers. Also, it has a tea kettle.



What can I say about djinns? That they are incredibly common? That they are essential to most space-based activities, so much that most people don't even mind them? All of that and a lot more I assume. Djinns are smallish (read: human-sized) space drones that are all based upon the same basic pattern: a CPU, manipulator arms, simple LIDAR sensors and manoeuvering thrusters. You may keep them "as is" or upgrade them with various shenanigans but at heart, that's all they are. Free-floating drones designed to pick up and manipulate things in zero-g, a domain in which we humans are sorely lacking. Uninformed spacefarers will tell you djinns are stupid. That's just because they forgot to hook them up to a central AI and just let them fool around independently. Don't do that.


"Little cyclops" I call them due to their laser "eye" (in fact a standard emitter) standing at the top of a little gimbal. This djinn design is a natural evolution of the good old laser grid system for debris and dust protection - except that instead of being stuck to the ship our lasers can now wander around and intercept threats with more flexibility. Is it a good thing? Well, at least the people who made this pattern public domain think so. Personally, I've heard potential horror stories about laser djinn swarms used as weapons but I don't think they have enough battery to be a threat. If you want to be exceedingly annoying by blinding someone's sensors with swarms of laser emitters, however, they might cut it.



Whoever called a four-legged machine "spider" should take biology courses but whatever, I am not here to be pedantic. This is...a thing, certainly? I'm not sure what it's supposed to be, really. The user manual tells me it's a mobile prospection/exploration apparatus that is supposed to use its legs as clamps to hold on to rocky asteroids and low-g planetary surfaces and okay, fine, but I don't see why you wouldn't use a big djinn instead. I am suspecting this to be an R and D reject, a failed design that a facetious engineer would put in the public domain for giggles.


Meeechs! Alright, I have to admit this one surprised me when it appeared in public domain databases about a decade ago because it is...actually not terrible? For a bipedal mech, I mean. The profile is very well-balanced, the legs make it hard to topple, ground pressure is reasonable and the default autopilot does a very good job at making the mech go where you want it to go. Manipulator arms and side hardpoints mean you can attach a lot of standard tools to the Lumia which makes it a very versatile workhorse machine. Its only true weaknesses are muddy/snowy terrain (but that's true of all mechs) and heat dissipation - the Lumia is very compact.


When the Lumia came out I had my doubts about the identity of its creators - frankly, that a small Smyrnian commune would have achieved such a good design and released it for free was surprising. When I found this alternate design in the dark corners of Eloran networks my doubts only became stronger. The Lumia is not just an elaborate hobby project, there's something else behind it. The weaponized version is one of the only combat mechs out there that could fight outside of flower wars. Compact, very well balanced even under fire, with a low profile, and packing a lot of weaponry for its size - quad chemical guns, an ECM jammer, eight missile pods and that's for the default version. I could see the weaponized Lumia be used as some kind of mechanized infantry unit with good efficiency. Honestly, that a commune could come up with this and release it publicly for shenanigans keeps me awake at night  - because if that's what they give, I wonder what they sell.



It took decades for Earth militaries to refine the concept of individual powersuits. They were meant to revolutionize combat, but they arrived right at the moment where AIs and drones had taken over in armies. Bad timing. The concept survived however under the shape of powered hardsuits, the most common of which is the Granite. Roughly man-sized (roughly - if you know someone who's as beefy as a Granite, call me) the Granite hardsuit is I think a Giants' Collective design put in public domain libraries (the copyright is a bit blurry for this one). It's...well it's a hardsuit. Titanium-and-carbon-nanotubes-with-heavy-water-sandwich hard. Three thousand meters under the sea. Five kilometres away from a powerful radiation source. With corrosive water. And explosions. The Granite doesn't mind.

Supposedly it can survive re-entry, I have doubts about the whole slowing down before impact business, however. 


I mean it's terrifying but it's also kinda brilliant. Powersuits make the wearer stronger and more resilient but how about giving them more arms? Like three times more? This is a Moon Communes design which was later upgraded by the Irenians and put in the public domain - the Irenians did not originally have the rights to this design and I think making it public was their way of settling the dispute by making the lawsuit way too annoying to handle. It's mostly a spacesuit. A top of the line spacesuit with environmental control, multiple sensor inputs, drone support, autopilot/movement assist and, well, yes, three pairs of arms, two of which are remotely controlled by the suit's mainframe.

Designs: Retrograde Minis.

All content in the Starmoth Blog is © Isilanka
Written content on Starmoth is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 license