Monday, December 10, 2012

Gentlemen! I have built, THIS THING!: SCUD Drone

Following right on the heels of the Terror Bird & Demon Ninja GIHBTT, I have another build I'm fairly proud of to show you. This time, we're going deep under the sea and combining several nightmare fuel ocean creatures into one laser-wielding death robot, the SCUD Drone!

This guy came about from my having a bunch of dark blue pieces from a Star Wars Tri-Droid set, the light-up brick piece from the Creator Rescue Robot set, lack joint pieces since they are mainly in use in other builds and the desire to bring all those things together. It worked pretty well.

The SCUD Drone is an autonomous, deep water military unit used for a variety of purposes, but primarily as a surprisingly form of underwater artillery. Shown here in it's walking mode, you can see the influence of the creature that inspired it's primary appearance, the Spiny Lobster. The thick, spiky body, tail and antennae, plus the lack of claws is a rough summation of the Spiny Lobster. In this mode, the SCUD freely traverses the ocean floor, surprisingly dexterous in it's ability to climb extremely angled or unstable surfaces. The four stout, reinforced legs give the SCUD a stable grip and can dig into the sea bed to anchor it when firing it's tail cannon. The long, bladed antennae contain a variety of complex sensor systems as one might imagine, but they also serve as the SCUD's primary close range weapons and grasping appendages. The antennae are complex enough to cradle and lift objects as small and fragile (in comparison to a thirty-something foot long robot) as a watermelon, but can also be whipped forward with alarming speed and accuracy to cause severe slashing damage to targets as hardened as the hull of a submarine. Much like the real world mantis shrimp, the SCUD whips with enough speed and force to create cavitation bubbles, the collapse of which creates an additional concussive force on the target seconds before the appendage actually strikes.

At the bases of the SCUD's antennae are a pair of sharpened blades that it can use as both a weapon and a cutting tool if a mission requires it, "feeding" targets into the blades using the highly flexible antennae. Shown here also is the forward weapon exhaust vent (situated between the bases of the antennae) and the third optic sensor mounted on the underside of the SCUD's body that helps it maintain a rock solid footing on the ocean floor by constantly scanning the terrain ahead and beneath it. This sensor, coupled with the powerful primary optic sensors, gives the SCUD an excellent field of vision and a variety of available spectrum scans.

Here is the SCUD's tail, where the artillery portion of it's functions come in. The SCUD's tail actually possesses it's own independent processor that is built solely around advanced targeting systems and firing the powerful particle cannon contained within the "stinger" pod. Operating alone, the tail's systems are advanced enough to gather and compile data from the amount of light reaching the SCUD's optics, pressure changes, water column movement and even the behavior patterns of native sea life to locate and identify enemy targets operating at the surface and beneath the waves and can fire a devastating blast from several miles away. If the tail's systems are linked with those of a friendly surface ship or orbital satellite however, the SCUD can lob arced shots from beneath the water to hit inland or fire precise shots at airborne targets. These types of fire require an additional ramp up of the SCUD's power core to levels that can potentially damage the unit's more sensitive systems if further stress is put on the it, so the drones typically only employ this system from a secure position or when defended by other units. The excessive amounts of heat  resulting from firing the particle cannon was a hurdle in the SCUD's development, one that was cleverly re-purposed into yet another weapon in the robot's arsenal.

From an overhead view, the primary weapon exhaust vents are visible running along the SCUD's flanks. When the particle cannon is fired, the SCUD's systems reroute the resulting heat and steam and releases it through these vents, literally boiling the sea around the SCUD a few seconds after a cannon shot. The SCUD's designers built a separate system that re-routes and stores a portion of this discharge in a mechanism nestled between the drone's antennae stalks. Though it must be used quickly before the heat can dissipate, the SCUD can release this scalding burst in front of itself to boil any biological threats alive. This ability can still be used on land, though it "merely" blasts super-heated air at targets instead of boiling them, but this is no comfort when still enough to cook a man where he stands and completely ignores the most advanced body armor.

I built the light-up brick into the tail to serve as the particle cannon and it can be activated by pressing in the button at the back of the tail pod, as seen here. This is also a good photo for segueing into more about the things that influenced me in the SCUD's design. I already mentioned the Spiny Lobster as one influence and the "underwater artillery crustacean" idea is borrowed from the Crab Cannon of the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, but any Zoids fans out there will surely notice another looking at the tail. The SCUD's tail design, from being a super laser to having various flaps and fins surrounding the barrel, is highly influenced by the Death Stinger from the Zoids series. Of course, the SCUD has one final surprise that also evokes a sea-dwelling early invertebrate...

The SCUD reveals the final influence in it's design when it converts to swimming mode, Anomalocaris. Anomalocaris was an early arthropod that swam in the warm, shallow seas of the early to mid-Cambrian period and crushed hard-shelled prey with it's spiked mouth parts.The SCUD mimics the smooth contours of Anomalocaris and swims with powerful undulations of it's body and tail when scuttling around the sea floor becomes boring. Also, the way the antennae fold beneath it's head when swimming is an exact mimic of how Anomalocaris' mouth parts were positioned and the two share a similar body profile. When swimming, the SCUD's weapon exhaust systems seal off their connections to the core and are used to aid propulsion by drawing water into the channels through the vent in the drone's "mouth" and forcing it out through the rear. This also allows quick bursts of movement in nearly any direction the vents can angle to, but prevents the drone from using it's particle cannon until it has purged all water from the system and resealed the exhaust.

So ends another edition of Gentlemen! I have built, THIS THING! I hope you enjoyed the exhaustively detailed account of the SCUD Drone and the mini paleontology lesson about Anomalocaris. Tune in next time for more overly thought out descriptions of Lego robots!

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