Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

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Varulv
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Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Varulv » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:07 pm

One of my players would like to buy a small (a few grams up to max 1 kg) drone/UAV for scouting purposes. I haven’t found anything in CSC or other official Traveller books. I searched the forum and found a good image posted by wbnc but no data or other information.

Given the rapid evolution of drones for personal use that we see today It’s easy enough to handwave a few TL 8 drones and then extrapolate more advanced versions. However, perhaps someone has examples of small drones or know of a third-party source for this.
steve98052
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby steve98052 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:51 pm

Here's a video about potential near future "Slaughter Bots". They are probably possible now, if anyone with enough resources and inadequate common sense wants to build them. This is a very disturbing video.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=you ... cClODh4zYk
dsmith14469
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby dsmith14469 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:53 pm

The Vehicle book has two pages about Drones. I don't see why you couldn't use real world prices or adjust based on tech level and size as long as they weren't armed or expected to carry any weight.

You could also base the prices on the transceivers in the supply Catalog for ranges.
Varulv
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Varulv » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:40 pm

steve98052 wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:51 pm
Here's a video about potential near future "Slaughter Bots". They are probably possible now, if anyone with enough resources and inadequate common sense wants to build them. This is a very disturbing video.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=you ... cClODh4zYk
Very disturbing indeed, but it also shows the possibilities of a very small drone: Autonomous, audio/video recording and transmission, difficult to detect and a lethal payload.

dsmith14469 wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:53 pm
The Vehicle book has two pages about Drones. I don't see why you couldn't use real world prices or adjust based on tech level and size as long as they weren't armed or expected to carry any weight.

You could also base the prices on the transceivers in the supply Catalog for ranges.
The drone section in the vehicle handbook is for large drones, several hundred kilos and up, but the interfaces and robot brains can be very useful even when designing small drones. Thanks!
Varulv
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Varulv » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:49 pm

I just checked the Mongoose 2300AD Core Rulebook and it has a surveillance swarm made up of approximately 100 large-insect-sized flying robots (p. 166). It doesn’t give much information on its capabilities but gives guidelines on its durability in combat. This can be elaborated.
Linwood
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Linwood » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:00 am

I’ve been winging a few things like this in my campaign. For a durable autonomous drone usable in vacuum and other hostile environments I set the price at a few KCr; for cheap, less durable models it could be Cr100 or so.

This is probably a good subject for a supplement....
Varulv
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Varulv » Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:47 pm

Linwood wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:00 am
I’ve been winging a few things like this in my campaign. For a durable autonomous drone usable in vacuum and other hostile environments I set the price at a few KCr; for cheap, less durable models it could be Cr100 or so.

This is probably a good subject for a supplement....
I think that is a good price range, sound reasonable for simple to durable drones. The robot brains in the drone section of the vehicle handbook are priced from kCr 20 (TL8/Basic) to MCr 1 (TL15/Self-aware) which is too steep to use as a basis for affordable drones.

A drone supplement would be great!
baithammer
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby baithammer » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:08 pm

Small drones don't need drone brains, all that's needed is Remote Controller which can be a computer with a few programs.
Varulv
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Varulv » Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:49 pm

I have made a draft for two different types of flying recon drones. They are based mainly on the information found in the robots section of CSC (p. 70-76) but the programing texts comes from the drone section in the vehicle handbook (p. 66-68).

The first type is available in a TL 8 and a TL 10 version. The first version is a stupid thing that requires an operator to be efficient while the latter has limited intelligence, a recon skill, IR/UV vision and more. The price for the TL 10 version is steep but the price includes a basic robot brain (Cr 20,000 in the vehicle handbook).

The second type is a TL 12 grav-assisted drone with an advanced robot brain (Cr 100,000), a good recon skill, the same flying speed as a grav belt (Cr 100,000), armour and good sensors.

I would be very happy for any constructive feedback on the designs.


FLYING RECON DRONE
A small flying drone used for reconnaissance. The recon drone can be controlled remotely by an operator using Electronics (remote ops) or be preprogramed to fly a certain route or from point to point. It has audio/visual sensors that can be accessed by the operator or stored in its internal memory for later retrieval. The recon drone requires thin, standard or dense atmosphere (4 – 9) in order to fly. Duration is 1 hour (4 hours at TL 10) at cruise speed. At TL 10 the drone is given an extremely limited intelligence which focusses purely on its (very precisely) preprogramed mission. It can avoid obstacles and obvious hazards, but has little ability to otherwise interact with its environment.

TL 8 flying recon drone
Hits: 1
Speed: 25 m
Cost: Cr 500
Skills: None
Attacks: None
Traits: Flyer (very slow), Small (-3)
Programming: None

TL 10 flying recon drone
Hits: 4
Speed: 50 m
Cost: Cr 25,000
Skills: Recon 0
Attacks: None
Traits: Flyer (slow), IR/UV Vision, Small (-4)
Programming: Basic (recon)


GRAV-ASSISTED RECON DRONE
A small (Ø100 mm) spherical grav-assisted drone used for reconnaissance. The drone can be controlled remotely by an operator using Electronics (remote ops) or be preprogramed to perform a specific mission. The drone has some fair degree of intelligence and can interact with its environment in a way that almost appears sentient. However, the drone will tend to be very literal in its interpretation of its preprogramed mission and when confronted with an unexpected or unfamiliar situation, may become confused to the point of inaction. It has IR/UV visual sensors and audio microphone/speaker which can be accessed by the operator or stored in its internal memory for later retrieval. The recon drone does not require an atmosphere but do require a gravity field to be able to fly. Duration is 12 hour at cruise speed.

TL 12 grav-assisted recon drone
Hits: 4
Speed: 75 m
Cost: Cr 250,000
Skills: Recon 3
Attacks: None
Traits: Armour (+6), Flyer (medium), Heightened Senses, IR/UV Vision, Small (-4)
Programming: Advanced (recon)
Last edited by Varulv on Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Condottiere
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Condottiere » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:53 pm

These drones could swarm and get underfoot. Be cautious!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CehDxi_qImY
steve98052
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby steve98052 » Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:26 pm

Here's a late TL7 reconnaissance drone:

Mavic Pro
20×8×8 cm collapsed for storage, I think about 30×30×8 cm expanded for flight
743 grams.
Five cameras, 24 computer cores, two ultrasonic rangefinders, and GPS with inertial backup
Top speed is 65 km/h (18 meters per second), and endurance is 27 minutes.
It cab be remotely piloted or fly a programmed route; if it's remotely piloted and loses signal it has a procedure for what to do. (I think default is to return to its launch point, but it may be able to loiter and wait for the signal to come back before returning to launch point.)

In Traveller terms, the top speed is "Slow" (50 to 100 km/h. In tactical speed, the top speed is 36 meters per minor movement action.
MonkeyX
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby MonkeyX » Sat Jul 28, 2018 7:48 pm

One of my players is interested in equipping his character with drones and these work great. Thanks.
Varulv
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Varulv » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:12 pm

steve98052 wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 6:26 pm
Here's a late TL7 reconnaissance drone:

Mavic Pro
20×8×8 cm collapsed for storage, I think about 30×30×8 cm expanded for flight
743 grams.
Five cameras, 24 computer cores, two ultrasonic rangefinders, and GPS with inertial backup
Top speed is 65 km/h (18 meters per second), and endurance is 27 minutes.
It cab be remotely piloted or fly a programmed route; if it's remotely piloted and loses signal it has a procedure for what to do. (I think default is to return to its launch point, but it may be able to loiter and wait for the signal to come back before returning to launch point.)

In Traveller terms, the top speed is "Slow" (50 to 100 km/h. In tactical speed, the top speed is 36 meters per minor movement action.
Thanks steve98052, I was focusing on practical speeds for stealth at short distance, but it should be possible to move at higher speeds (and making more noise). I’ve upgraded the speeds to:

TL 8: Speed band: Very slow, 25 m/minor action (45 km/h)
TL 10: Speed band: Slow, 50 m/minor action (90 km/h)
TL 12: Speed band: Medium, 75 m/minor action (135 km/h)
steve98052
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby steve98052 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:52 pm

The drone I described is surprisingly quiet even at full speed. It's designed as a camera platform that is stable enough to take pixel clear video, so vibration is necessarily minimized -- and any energy that goes into noise is energy that isn't going into lift and propulsion. It's not going to be stealth-quiet in an office unless it parks itself on top of a shelf, but it is quiet enough to be inconspicuous near a busy street or inside a factory or noisy pub.

It's possible to build drones specifically for noise stealth, doing whatever stealth helicopters do in "whisper mode". Those would probably cost more than the US$1000 (Cr250) late TL7 Mavic Pro, but probably not vastly more.

- - -

Also, I think there's a lower limit on the size of a grav vehicle. I'd look at the statistics for a grav belt as a starting point; when it's introduced it's probably close to the smallest possible grav vehicle, but at higher technology levels it gets smaller.
Varulv
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Varulv » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:48 pm

Good point. In MegaTraveller Imperial Encyclopedia the volume of a grav belt is 25 litres at TL 12 and 15 litres as TL 15 (p. 59). Shaped as a sphere that means a diameter of 363 mm at TL 12 and 306 mm at TL 15. However, that is for lifting 300 kg which is a factor of 100 or 1000 more than what is required for this drone.

Suggestions on how the volume should be reduced when the lifting capability is reduced? Or even better, are there any rules in an earlier version of Traveller?
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby Linwood » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:43 pm

Maybe Fire, Fusion and Steel?
steve98052
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Re: Small drones / Unmanned aerial vehicles

Postby steve98052 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 7:12 pm

Going by GURPS Traveller, I find that contragravity lift becomes available at GTL8, which is also TTL8. It improves at GTL9, which is also TTL9. But that only provides lift; you still need fans for thrust.

Contragravity TL8: weight is 20 pounds plus 1 pound per 1000 pounds of lift; cost is Cr2500 plus Cr50 per 1000 pounds of lift; power used is 1 kW per 1000 pounds of lift.

Contragravity TL9: weight is 10 pounds plus 1 pound per 2000 pounds of lift; cost is Cr500 plus Cr10 per 2000 pounds of lift; power used is 2 kW per 2000 pounds of lift.

Reactionless thrusters become available at TL8, but they generate as much waste heat and noise a rocket engine. At TL9, they become practical at vehicle scale, but it's not until GTL10, TTL12, that they're small enough for a personal grav belt.

Thruster table: TL8, weight=thrust, cost Cr25/pound weight, power=500 W/pound thrust.
TL9 cheap, weight=thrust/2, cost=Cr20/pound weight; TL9 powerful, weight=thrust/5, cost=Cr100/pound weight; power=500 W/pound thrust for either.
TL10 cheap, weight=thrust/20, cost=Cr20/pound weight; TL10 powerful, weigh=thrust/50, cost=Cr100/pound weight; power=50 W/pound thrust for either.
Minimum cost is always Cr500. That should probably determine the minimum weight too, but that's not a written rule.

Extrapolating a bit, I'd rule that you could build a half-ton (normal tons, not dtons) drone at TL8, but it's noisy and requires atmosphere to dissipate waste heat. At TL9, you can build a quarter-ton, silent, vacuum-capable drone. At TL10, they're down to 75 kg. At TL11, they're down to 20 kg. At TL12, they're only 6 kg. At TL13, 2 kg, TL14, 500 g, TL15, 15 g.

Those figures might need work, however, because it seems like grav drones should beat fan drones at some point, just for Traveller flavor.

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