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Speculation on near-future hard sci-fi, often with reference to GURPS Transhuman Space (TS/THS). Occasional digressions into other fields such as cyberpunk, ribofunk and Car Wars. If you have enjoyed this article or it has been helpful to you please feel free to show your appreciation. Thank you.
“A conventional tank takes a couple of seconds to roll out of cover, fire and then roll back again. You can use that to your advantage. The Kuros, however…They pop out, fire and are gone again before you know it. And they can hide in a lot of places a tank cannot!”
“The spider was firing down the street. Shaka came out the doorway with a satchel charge, intending to hook it on. He hadn’t known they have eyes in the back of their heads. A leg lashed out and hit him soundly in the chest, lifting him off his feet. The foot stuck there for a moment, then a second kick sent him flying as the claws retracted. The machine never even paused from firing down the street.”
RATS (Robot Armoured Tactical Systems) come in many shapes and sizes. The Tirelli Kumo-607 may be considered to be a typical example of a hexapod model. Its performance and flexibility has led to wide scale usage and a number of copies.
The Kumo-607 is about the size of a mule or large dog. The body of the Kumo is a small platform on the edge of which six limbs are mounted. The underside of the body is shaped to deflect mine blasts. Each limb ends in a polymer coated “hoof”. Each hoof has retractable claws that can be used for digging, climbing, fighting or as crampons. Each limb is also provided with a retractable waldo that allows the limb to function as an arm and manipulate items such as keypads or door handles. Limbs also have video pickups, allowing the Kumo to look over walls or around corners without exposing itself. A submerged Kumo will use one limb as a periscope.
The “head” of the Kumo resembles a turret mounted in the centre of the platform. Forward for the Kumo is whatever direction its weapons happen to be pointing. Multiple video pickups give the Kumo all-around vision. The turret has an assortment of mounting points for a variety of weapons. Typically a Kumo mounts a 7.5mm MG or a 10mm Emag. Police models may mount shorter-ranged or less-lethal weapons. The gun armament of the Kumo is supplemented by a number of launch tubes of varying calibres. Typically two large-calibre anti-tank/assault launchers are supplemented by various 30mm or 40mm weapons. Kumos may also carry swarmbots and minibots for reconnaissance, defence and repairs.
The Kumo has a number of different “gaits”. Typically it moves like a spider, with its legs spread out for maximum stability. If a passage is narrow it moves somewhat like a grasshopper, with some legs forward and some to the rear. It may employ a straight-legged high stance when wading, moving through tall grass or in minefields. Alternately it may also move close to the ground in a “crawl”. A Kumo may use its legs to brace itself between two walls and move upwards or downwards. If a Kumo needs to engage in close combat it will move like a mantis or crab, moving on four legs and striking out with the other two. The retractable claws might be deployed in such actions.
The six limbs of the Kumo give it a degree of redundancy. It can use two limbs with no degradation of movement. If a third leg is lost it can still move at a reduced rate. Legs of a Kumo are -5 to hit and are often fitted with detachable, easily replaced armoured panels. Damaged legs can easily be replaced by plug-in spares. The Kumo itself can perform this action. In some conflicts it Kumos may carry spare legs with them.
Kumos usually form the foundation of a squad or platoon’s firepower. They often ride on the outside of military vehicles, effectively serving as extra turrets.
The SCAT-Kumo (SCout/ATtack) is a smaller version of the 607, less than two feet high. It is particularly useful for indoor operations and is favoured by some SWAT units. Armament is typically a carbine and/ or shotgun, supplemented by 15mm to 40mm missiles and grenades. SCATs are often used alongside Kumo-607s, creating a scene similar to a mother spider surrounded by her offspring.
The video below gives some idea of what the Kumo-607 and SCAT-Kumo might look like.