Scout ants (aka “Scants”) are a commonly used reconnaissance system. Less sophisticated than a CATS, they are a fraction of the price. This may result in relatively large numbers being used at once.
As might be expected, a scant resembles an ant approximately 30 cm long. Number of legs may vary from four to eight, with the hexapod configuration being most common. The head contains sensors, including cameras, microphones and sometimes olfactory pick-ups. The abdomen protects a retractable antenna. When retracted the communication systems have some resistance to EMP attacks.
Lacking the speed and agility of a CATS, the scant is typically tasked with missions such as the surveillance of a stationary site. To do this the scant will typically select a vantage point under a bush or up a tree, where they are easily overlooked. A scant can climb the sides of most buildings, but this often exposes them to observation. In urban environments beneath parked vehicles is a more popular observation position.
Scants negotiate water obstacles by attempting to traverse the river bottom.
Many models of scant are not equipped with any armament. Some include an electric “crackler”, which is mainly intended to discourage predatory animals with adventurous appetites. The crackler can be a nasty surprise for human enemies that try to handle a scant. The victim of a crackler discharge must make a HT-3 roll to avoid being stunned (at +1 per 10 points of non-conductive DR); if the roll fails, the victim takes 1d fatigue and remains stunned for as long as the crackler-equipped scant is in contact, and for (20-HT) seconds after it is removed, before any recovery rolls are permitted. Some operators have found more inventive uses for a scant crackler, using it to disrupt electrical devices or ignite flammables.
Scants are deployed in a variety of ways. They may be allowed to simply walk to their objective. They can be dropped from aircraft or inserted by larger cybershells or vehicles. Several scants can fit in a briefcase.