Author Topic: Crossroadian Delivery Drones [AU: Vela Corridor]  (Read 661 times)

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Crossroadian Delivery Drones [AU: Vela Corridor]
« on: 10 September 2023, 15:13:38 »
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Columba Delivery Drone (3082)
Mass: 0.1 tons
Movement Type: VTOL
Power Plant: Battery
Cruising Speed: 108 kph
Maximum Speed: 162 kph
Armor: BAR 2
Armament:
Communication System: Unknown
Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown
Introduction Year: 3082
Tech Rating/Availability: F/X-X-D-D
Cost: 1,232 C-bills
Type: Columba Delivery Drone
Chassis Type: VTOL (Small)
Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Standard)
Mass: 100 kg
Battle Value: 8
Equipment Mass (kg)
Chassis/Controls 32
Engine/Trans. Battery 17
     Cruise MP: 10
     Flank MP: 15
Heat Sinks: 0 0
Fuel: 2
Armor Factor (BAR 2): 0 0
Internal
Structure Armor
Value
Front 1 0
R/L Side 1/1 0/0
Rear 1 0
Rotor 1 0
Weapons
and Ammo Location Critical Mass (kg)
None
Cargo
Bay 1: Cargo (0.049 tons) 1 Door
Notes: Features Ultra-Light Chassis and Controls Modification

The Columba is one of the first automated delivery vehicles designed and produced en masse in the Vela Corridor.

Design
The Columba series of drones are fairly traditional quadcopters, little different than examples that were produced on Terra in the 21st century, with two major exceptions: its robotic "brain" adapted from Star League era military autonomous systems, and a much more advanced battery capable of enabling trip ranges (including the return flight) of more than 100 km.  The most recent version of the Columba can unload a payload of nearly 50 kg at nearly a 120km range at 108 km/hr.

Most of the chassis design is actually Mechani in nature: Specifically, notable Auchmor polymath Pallav Kulkarni developed and produced a small number of cheap piloted ultralight quadcopters called the Daedalus Mk.I, designed for recreational purposes but with plans to expand its capabilities in the future.  This plan never developed under Kulkarni because the Mechani Alliance government rejected purchasing a contract for the model.  Along with seeing no real use for a manned platform with no payload beyond one human, they cited safety issues with the current Daedalus Mk.I's: The quadcopter rotors could easily take an arm off of a careless pilot in the top-mounted pillion seat, and even careful pilots couldn't avoid inhaling exhaust gases from the bottom-mounted internal combustion engine.

Convinced he could still make use of the device, Kulkarni traveled to Aleksandria, Republic of Crossroad in 2845.  There he met with Crossroadian entrepreneur Macauley
Tash, a former robotics engineer looking for new ways to market niches to enter.  The two formed the Tash & Kulkarni company (T&K) and redeveloped the Daedalus Mk.Is to use a robotic control system and hold a cargo capacity of 40 kg, a vehicle that became the first Columba Delivery Drone.

Kulkarni quickly grew bored of focusing on one endeavor and left its management to Tash, using his stakes in T&K to fund his other endeavors.  On Kulkarni's death in 2886, Tash quietly renamed the company to Tash Robotics, feeling that Kulkarni didn't actually do enough to warrant keeping his name in the company.  This backfired in the consumer's market; While T&K was a well-known company by this point, Tash Robotics wasn't, and its new logo unfortunately looked similar to a Gumerian company infamous for producing low-quality copycat products.  When the aging Tash retired himself in 2891, the new company management quickly reverted the company name back to T&K to retain their consumer market.

Deployment
T&K's Columba drones are widely deployed as delivery drones.  They typically operate as part of large fleets for commercial customers, either owned directly by the suppliers themselves or by contractors specializing in commercial logistics.  The Columba's low cost and light payload are ideal for "last mile" transportation, delivering ordered goods directly from a central depot such as a brick & mortar store to a customer's household.

A low but growing number of Columba drones have been brought down by individuals using light handheld jammers, as with such a large maximum load it's entirely possible to take down goods worth hundreds of C-bills (if the goods survive the fall, that is).  This is extremely illegal, not just for the theft; a 100-kg quadcopter crashing into the ground uncontrollably also makes for an obvious hazard, such that the Republic of Crossroad throws in the same criminal charges for so called "Jammer Pirates" that they do for shooting down manned aircraft.

While an onboard solution of such an issue has existed for a while by 3082 in the form of generalized Shielded SRCS that function on ground vehicles in addition to aircraft, the 3082 version of the Columba drone lacks such a feature.  T&K claims the technology is not legal for use on non-military UAAVs, but its use on certain nonmilitary government UAAVs such as police UAAVs (including some versions produced by T&K itself) suggest otherwise.  Cynical observers theorize T&K is simply not willing to pay for the shielding when they ultimately don't have to pay the price of downed Columbas, while the more conspiratorial voices insist T&K actually pays the "Jammer Pirates" to down their birds so commercial customers have to pay them for replacements.

Variants
(2845): The original version had just 80% of the top speed, slightly under 100 km round-trip range, and 40 kg carrying capacity.  The battery and structure are significantly less advanced, roughly equivalent to what was available during the late 22nd century, but this made them easier to produce in large numbers.
(2890): A version with Star League era technology, reaches the speed of the modern model with slightly higher carrying capacity (43 kg), but still has reduced range.

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Pigeon Heavy Delivery Drone (3082)
Mass: 0.4 tons
Movement Type: VTOL
Power Plant: Battery
Cruising Speed: 129.6 kph
Maximum Speed: 194.4 kph
Armor: BAR 2
Armament:
Communication System: Unknown
Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown
Introduction Year: 3082
Tech Rating/Availability: F/X-X-F-F
Cost: 7,274 C-bills
Type: Pigeon Heavy Delivery Drone
Chassis Type: VTOL (Small)
Technology Base: Mixed (Advanced)
Mass: 400 kg
Battle Value: 9
Equipment Mass (kg)
Chassis/Controls 52
Engine/Trans. Battery 95
     Cruise MP: 12
     Flank MP: 18
Heat Sinks: 0 0
Fuel: 20
Armor Factor (BAR 2): 0 0
Internal
Structure Armor
Value
Front 1 0
R/L Side 1/1 0/0
Rear 1 0
Rotor 1 0
Weapons
and Ammo Location Critical Mass (kg)
None
Cargo
Bay 1: Cargo (0.233 tons) 1 Door
Notes: Features Ultra-Light Chassis and Controls Modification, Smart Robotic Control System

Much less common than the Columba, the Pigeon is a larger octacopter drone able to carry a couple hundred kilograms, sufficient to carry most heavier appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers, or even small motorcycles.  Smaller numbers of Pigeons are usually needed compared to Columbas, but a few industries (such as construction) may have much larger proportion of, or even exclusively rely upon, Pigeons.

Variants
(2852):The original Pigeon was a bit more advanced than the original Columba, approximately equivalent to Age of War era technology, had a cruising speed of 108 km/hr, a round-trip range of 100 km, and a slightly lower maximum payload of 225 kg.

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Rock Dove Militarized Delivery Drone (3085)
Mass: 0.5 tons
Movement Type: VTOL
Power Plant: Battery
Cruising Speed: 108 kph
Maximum Speed: 162 kph
Armor: BAR 2
Armament:
     4 Shotgun (Marburg-20M)
Communication System: Unknown
Targeting & Tracking System: Unknown
Introduction Year: 3085
Tech Rating/Availability: F/X-X-F-F
Cost: 10,308 C-bills
Type: Rock Dove Militarized Delivery Drone
Chassis Type: VTOL (Small)
Technology Base: Mixed (Advanced)
Mass: 500 kg
Battle Value: 14
Equipment Mass (kg)
Chassis/Controls 158
Engine/Trans. Battery 84
     Cruise MP: 10
     Flank MP: 15
Heat Sinks: 0 0
Fuel: 21
Armor Factor (BAR 2): 4 44
Internal
Structure Armor
Value
Front 1 1
R/L Side 1/1 1/1
Rear 1 0
Rotor 1 1
Weapons
and Ammo Location Critical Mass (kg)
4 Shotgun (Marburg-20M) Pintle 4 15.6
4 Shotgun (Marburg-20M) Ammo (56 shots) Pintle 0 16
Cargo
Bay 1: Cargo (0.175 tons) 1 Door
Notes: Features Ultra-Light Chassis and Controls Modification, Pintle Mount(2), Advanced Fire Control, Shielded Smart Robotic Control System
The Rock Dove is a militarized Pigeon produced for and primarily fielded by the Republic of Crossroad to inexpensively provide supplies for dispersed elements, mainly battle armored infantry.

The Crossroadians initially saw the potential value of hauling these relatively tiny drones to improve their military logistics capabilities for their mechanized battlegroups, resupplying them with food, ammunition, and specialty equipment such as power pack recharger.  They initially used off-the-shelf Pigeons and Columbas for this role for cost-effectiveness, but the 1st gumerian war in the late 30th century quickly showed the need for a specialized drone.

The 1st Gumerian war began with a surprise attack on the Mechani Alliance by the Gumerian Diktat.  Crossroadian public opinion was immensely in favour of intervention on the side of the Alliance, but their entry was delayed for a year due to political factors (the presiding Crossroadian President was a devout pacifist and repeatedly undermined any efforts to intervene in any capacity).  By the time they entered, the Gumerians had been largely pushed out of the Alliance and was now on the defensive.

The commercial delivery drones initially performed well enough in the first stages of the Crossroadian expedition into the Gumerian Diktat.  However, just less than a year in, they were taking far higher drone losses: The Gumerians had adapted rapidly and were downing them in drones using everything from conventional fighters to shotgun-wielding infantry in jeeps, breaking their rotor using their own (non-autonomous) remotely piloted drones, man-portable jamming "guns", and even birds of prey specially trained by to claw the central control system (though this was often dangerous for the birds as the rotors could easily shred them if they accidentally make contact).

Crossroadian infantry attempted to deal with this in various ways, ranging from simple reprogramming the UAAV's routes to avoid known Gumerian forces and be more willing to use flanking speed to reduce their exposure, to jerry rigging weaponry to the front of the UAAVs and reactivating dormant code related to using them.  Multiple weapon systems were trialed: the standard Mauser laser rifles were common but had difficulty actually hitting threats, while the jerry-rigged man-portable AA weapons struggled to get locks on the tiny anti-drone Gumerian UAVs (and never got locks on their raptors).  The simplest option, shotguns, turned out to be the most effective, perfectly capable of downing the Gumerian drones as well as falcons, and suppressing lone infantry that got too cocky.

The Rock Dove incorporated this feature and was supplied to Crossroadian units late into the war.  In addition to armor to protect its rotors and robotic control equipment from buckshot and unfriendly raptors, two pintle mounts on each side of the UAAV field two shotguns each tied to an advanced targeting system, suitable to suppress or destroy attacking birds or UAVs.  Though a lot of the cargo carrying capacity was lost to fit the new armor and weapons (despite increasing the weight of the Pigeon chassis it's based on by a whole 100 kg), the Rock Dove proved to be far more suited to the operational environment and took far fewer casualties than the commercial delivery UAAVs.

Variants
(2997): The original Rock Dove features lower end technology and can only manage to carry 160 kg at a speed of 86 km/h over a round-trip range of 500 km, but it was far more survivable in the operating environment of the Gumerian Diktat.  It was still vulnerable to jammers, however, which wouldn't be addressed until nearly a century later when the 3085 model upgraded the SRCS to a shielded version after analyzing drone research data captured from the Word of Blake.