How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

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tehprognoob
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How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by tehprognoob » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:01 pm

Saw this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAGmqarN ... re=related
0.0
(don't the way they bomb remind you of Kyrios in Gundam 00?)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt2qaTfT8QY
Lasers can now intercept mortar shells and artillery shells. That doesn't even exist on Gundam.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:42 pm

The short version is "never", for a variety of reasons. Mecha shows rely heavily on fictional technology (like UC's whole branch of Minovsky physics) and/or ignoring real science (the humanoid form would make a terrible spacecraft, and has very few advantages over wheeled or tracked vehicles on Earth) to make the "giant robots fighting each other awesomely" thing work. They're also somewhat schizophrenic as far as tech level goes -- for example, in the real world we've had computer-controlled, radar-guided anti-aircraft and anti-missile guns for decades, but in Mobile Suit Gundam we see people manning White Base's defensive guns WWII style.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by AnimeMun » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:07 pm

I wouldn't say "never". I would say we wouldn't see a situation where that would be necessary in our lifetimes. If you look at the proposed timelines for Gundam for example, most of this brand of tech is centuries away. The manned vs automated defense systems in UC can be explained away by Minofsky physics sadly enough. Without working radar tech how can an automated sensor read an incoming missile? Quick answer, "no dice".

Next the practicality of MS as spacecraft. First and foremost the larger battleships in Gundam series tend to carrier ships. So while they would make terrible LONG-RANGE spacecraft, they are good for what they are meant for which is close quarters to mid range combat. The more Long Range units (Elmeth comes to mind here) tend to resemble more traditional space craft. Its why the transformable units came about and why most of the large Mobile Armors tend to not have legs. In fact the legs were explained away with the Zeong, "The brass tend to like the look of legged units so we just slap them on to make them happy" I think the quote was. The Zeong fought damn well not using the legs, in fact it was almost as if the RX-78-2 was hindered by its legs in that battle.

I would say the selling point of an MS is actually very sensible compared to modern weaponry, more boom for your buck. Last time I checked people in the military tend to like big explosions, what bigger an explosion can you get than nuclear powered robots firing at eachother with energy weapons that can make an explosion big enough to take out at least a higher class asteroid? (insert Michael Bay joke here) A real world example, the F22 Raptor has issues flying in the rain, but get it out there on a sunny day and it looks pretty awesome doesn't it? Our military spent BILLIONS of dollars on a defective product line. Would you be at all surprised if they bought something as impractical as giant walking fighting, nuclear time bombs???
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by Brave Fencer Kirby » Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:05 pm

AnimeMun wrote:The manned vs automated defense systems in UC can be explained away by Minofsky physics sadly enough. Without working radar tech how can an automated sensor read an incoming missile? Quick answer, "no dice".
We know that UC Gundam makes extensive use of infrared sensors, which can serve much the same role as radar at close ranges (which is when the defensive guns would be active), and visual recognition software should be able to determine between friendlies and targets pretty easily by the time UC rolls around.
AnimeMun wrote:Next the practicality of MS as spacecraft. First and foremost the larger battleships in Gundam series tend to carrier ships. So while they would make terrible LONG-RANGE spacecraft, they are good for what they are meant for which is close quarters to mid range combat.
There's no such thing as close quarters combat in space, barring some fictional technology like stealth fields or Minovsky particle jamming. Space is big an empty, and everyone can see everyone else as long as they have line of sight (ie the planet isn't between them). And if you can see someone, you can shoot at them.
AnimeMun wrote:I would say the selling point of an MS is actually very sensible compared to modern weaponry, more boom for your buck.
Except that mecha wouldn't provide more boom for your buck. That's the whole point. There's nothing that mecha could do that couldn't be done better by a tank, a plane, or a dedicated spacecraft.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by AnimeMun » Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:54 pm

Brave Fencer Kirby wrote:
AnimeMun wrote:I would say the selling point of an MS is actually very sensible compared to modern weaponry, more boom for your buck.
Except that mecha wouldn't provide more boom for your buck. That's the whole point. There's nothing that mecha could do that couldn't be done better by a tank, a plane, or a dedicated spacecraft.
Lets consider the sizes here for a minute. At the smallest a mecha can reasonably get and still be realistically driven as a giant robot we'll shift this to Macross for the sake of your arguement.

Namely because last I checked most mecha from Gundam were at least 3 times the size of most tanks, airplanes and dedicated spacecraft which means high energy reactor+5 times the propellant capacity of a jet or space shuttle+plenty of flammable fuel for the reactor=pretty nasty boom equivalent of Three-Mile Island which covers the bigger explosion factor.

A variable fighter from Macross still fits within the mecha category however it shows the possible versatility of such a design. This is a high speed jet that can hover like a Harrier or F-35. This is acheived in Gerwalk position, due to the access to hands this has shown to double in being able to shield or save non-combatants. Brilliant for urban combat locales where you happen to need heavier weaponry due to when terrorists can more easily blow up your other attempts to take them out without civilian casualtied. The Battroid mode can help this even more so by being able to move a little more stealthfully by being able to run more on silent and be painted to mesh with the surroundings and provide undercover heavy fire as a distraction. This helpfullness is emphasised even more so with a lone hostage, particularly a dignitary. Plus a VF-1 probably costs no less than a F-35 in the long run.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by ShadowCell » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:01 pm

you're talking about a Variable Fighter from Macross as an example of a realistic possible realization of mecha technology?

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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by Newtype87 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:07 pm

Wouldn't a VOTOMS be a better example? Those things are basically mini-tanks with legs, and aren't they treated incredibly realistically? Actually, no: the labors of Patlabor are even better, since even the military models are terrible and basically just look cool, and civilian models can be taken down relatively easily.

Really, mecha shows basically just ignore the laws of physics, and the only difference between "real" and "super" is how many laws of physics they pretend to follow or justify ignoring.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by AnimeMun » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:25 pm

ShadowCell wrote:you're talking about a Variable Fighter from Macross as an example of a realistic possible realization of mecha technology?
I know, I know, its a stretch. I'm just approaching it from this angle considering the in atmosphere usage I'm sure a mech would be used for. Its a depiction of unit flexibility. Also on top of that I feel it would be more reasonable to compare the first two truly real robot shows since what we would be approaching at this point would be the developing technologies.

It also doesn't hurt that there are already jets in the real world that can do quite a few of the same things a VF can do. One of those having been developed in the 1960s, a good 2 decades before Macross hit the air.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by ShadowCell » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:29 pm

...so, um, point me please towards the jet that was built in the 1960s that transforms into a humanoid, with arms and legs and everything?

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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by AnimeMun » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:34 pm

ShadowCell wrote:...so, um, point me please towards the jet that was built in the 1960s that transforms into a humanoid, with arms and legs and everything?
Now you are taking that a bit out of my context. What I meant was the capacity to hover in place, preform VTOL manuvers and fire precisely both in higher altitude and lower altitude flight. As for the jet that does this its of course the Harrier which was developed in the early 60s.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by ShadowCell » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:37 pm

But we have other things already that can do all that, and even better, which means there is no reason to have mecha.

Incidentally, we've already had a thread on this, and also a thread on the feasibility of Macross mecha in particular, right here. And, well, I can't count the number of "mecha in the real world" topics we've had on this forum already, so it looks like this one will be trotting out the same arguments again.

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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by tehprognoob » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:50 pm

Well, I was just wondering how the ZOINKS they could shoot down cannonballs with a laser 3 times out of 3.
ShadowCell wrote:But we have other things already that can do all that, and even better, which means there is no reason to have mecha.
Helicopters?
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by AnimeMun » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:52 pm

Ok, the issue with helis is the lack of going supersonic. Jets are capable of doing this. Let me state for the record that I'm not talking build a fully functional SDF-1, nor am I suggesting the miniaturization of Thermo-nuclear reactors for jet engines. I am just suggesting the usage of manuverable leg-like thrusters that can be used reasonably and multi-directionally for strafing capacity and attach robotic armatures for use in different situations along with a reloadable gun unit. This is all within the current span of our technology. I don't know about full battroid for certain but we can at least have gerwalk as an option. As a whole this concept is completely plausible.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by ShadowCell » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:57 pm

No it isn't, because a) we have stuff that does all that anyway, and our helicopters and jet fighters are better at being helicopters and jet fighters than some hybrid jet heli-fighter that can't be a helicopter or a jet fighter as well as a helicopter and a jet fighter, b) what do we need a supersonic helicopter for?, and c) go read that thread for all the reasons why attaching arms and legs to your helicopter or airplane is a silly idea.

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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by tehprognoob » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:01 pm

Yes, yes, we know. More components equal more chances of failure, and a more complex machine is more fragile and more prune to failure than a simpler one. I do beleve that there are VTOL fighters out there, right?
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by AnimeMun » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:18 pm

Ok, to start off, the Osprey is in no way comparable to a transforming jet to humaniod unit because of the fact that it doesn't have humanoid qualities. Transforming a heli into a jet I think is sillier than transforming a jet to a robot personally. The supersonic bit is actually very simple, for quick escapes after coming in out of range of normal radar. I will say the lighter armor on a tank would be much nicer I guess. It would keep some people much safer. My father in law was in a tank accident, the people with him got killed and even though he was poking out the top when the tank rolled over he was paralyzed for a few months and now can pick up radio signals through the plate in the back of his head.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by Areku » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:31 pm

AnimeMun wrote:Transforming a heli into a jet I think is sillier than transforming a jet to a robot personally.
Are you kidding? That is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. The Osprey has two points of major movement in it's "transformation" (which is really just a 90-degree reorientation of thrust and a switch in lift coming from fixed-wing and rotary performance, making it a mere reconfiguration). A mecha-to-jet transformation has a bare minimum of four such points of movement (one for each limb), and such a minimalistic approach would ensure that it is terrible in both roles. And that's assuming we're speaking from a fictional standpoint; try to drag real world physics in, and the concept of a humanoid mecha is already horribly complex before talking about transformation. And how does it even go about transforming without destroying itself? The transitions from ground-to-sky and sky-to-ground would be very unforgiving; are you suggesting an engine that provides at least a 1:1 ratio while supporting all that extra, heavy transformation gear necessary to make this monster at least comparable enough to a plane to conceivably justify its existence?

Osprey sillier than a transforming robot? You have got to be Zoinkin' kidding me!

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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by AnimeMun » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:50 pm

Ok, let me try approaching this from a different angle to make this make more sense. My source material is real world in nature.

www.projectaiko.com

Ok, I'm sure a few of you have seen this within the past 5 years. So lets try and ignore the half-complete Canadian android and get to the fact that he has developed seemingly working robotic prosthetics that are controlled through his own nerve endings converting it into machine code to operate the fingers. From how this works it seems the signal goes to his forearm as a bypass, then is redirected to the prosthetic to perform the movements. Why do I bring this up you ask? Simple, mentally operated machinery. Imagine if you will that you are controlling the weaponcraft (tank, jet, whatever tickles your ivories) with just a thought. A military dream come true yes? I ask you, how would you best train a pilot to switch seamlessly from walking upright and using your arms, to controlling a plane using the exact same motor commands? A giant transforming robot. I couldn't give a better reason for one.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by Kenji » Sun Jul 18, 2010 12:25 am

Oh, no... I can see where this is going... Izayuukan's Death Machines, all over again. At least you're not suggesting removing the brain and popping it into the chassis, like the pointedly immoral Project Nirvana from Front Mission... right?

Let's see, where to start...

1) A giant robot that transforms into, say, a supersonic jet, but is human enough for this whole "easy to control mentally" bull to work. I don't care how many panels you put on the thing, short of encasing it inside of a jet fuselage, it's gonna be a terrible supersonic jet! Y'know, aerodynamics and all that jazz.

2) The "easy to control mentally" bull. Prosthesis-users and stroke victims take a lot of time and effort to rehabilitate to their new and/or old limbs. I imagine it can also be emotionally frustrating to have to relearn, at such a slow pace, everything they had earlier taken for granted. Now, imagine doing that with a whole body, which has a completely different mass, completely different strength and reaction times, and a completely different center of gravity, among other things. The amount of training that would be required would be somewhere on the order of years.

Add this to the obscene cost of building and maintaining such a complex machine and it's just not worth the dollars, because...

3) Combined Arms leave no room for mecha. Why have one unit that can take on several roles badly when you can have many units, working together, that each excel in their respective combat roles? There is no realistic situation where a helicopter would get caught at a disadvantage, have no support to take care of this deficiency, yet would somehow be able to get out of if it could transform into a very awkward tank, jet, or infantry squad (I'd love to see the last one). Nothing but the most contrived.
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Re: How far away are we from Mecha Show Tech Levels?

Post by Areku » Sun Jul 18, 2010 12:43 am

AnimeMun wrote:Simple, mentally operated machinery.
Which is all irrelevant when talking about the physical construction of a machine that has to be physically capable of supporting its own mass while resisting aerodynamic forces which would tend to rip it apart. The most clever coding in the world won't magically make your materials stronger or shrink the size of motors and hydraulics.

Besides that, mental control is not the be-all-and-end-all of military thinking. On top of the points Kenji has made, it's just not reliable enough, at least for the foreseeable future. The signals such a control scheme would use for processing would be far more complicated than modern digital signals, and with complication comes unreliability. Sure, it could be used to simplify and speed up certain actions, but its response and accuracy would be far from perfect and thus totally unsuitable as your primary means of control. At best, it would be relegated as a supplementary interface, with pilots trained to abandon it at the first sign of failure. Manual/digital controls would need to be available for anything you need the vehicle to do, and basic functions such as motor functions (walking, for example) that can't be controlled through those means would be unacceptable.

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