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> Drones and Laser/Smartlink/Tracer
AndyZ
post Apr 17 2010, 06:12 PM
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Can drones gain the benefits from laser sights, smartlink, and tracer rounds?
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MikeKozar
post Apr 17 2010, 06:59 PM
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I've seen some heated discussions on the subject, but I think my favorite angle on it was that all three systems provide superior targeting information. A drone trying to use iron sights with a sensor array has to work harder to line the shot up then if it has advanced targeting electronics mounted to the barrel via a smartlink; dedicated hardware beats software solutions.
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Awry
post Apr 17 2010, 07:44 PM
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That would make absolutely no sense. Smart Link is designed for humans, to adapt their eyes for targeting and to make them aware of various statistics regarding the weapon. Drones will not only be unable to understand (at least, without special software) visual information designed to be understood by humans, but don't need it. Drones have dedicated sensors specifically designed for targeting. These include laser range finders, thermographic sensors, ultrasound, and radar. They don't need their targets highlighted, since they know exactly where they are aiming (the question is, whether the enemy is actually there or not). As for remaining ammo, they know that just like I know how many fingers I have.

Drones without advanced targeting electronics and specialized software would simply be unable to fire. If you want to improve its targeting hardware/software, improve its sensor array and buy better targeting software. You could also make a case for drones with more sensors getting some sort of bonus.
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Apr 17 2010, 07:46 PM
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Or you install a SmartLink in a Camera and a SmartGun, too.
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Awry
post Apr 17 2010, 07:50 PM
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So... you're saying... the drone is going to have a camera that provides visual input to its camera...

But why stop there?

This post has been edited by Awry: Apr 17 2010, 07:52 PM
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SpellBinder
post Apr 17 2010, 07:57 PM
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Honestly I don't see why not. Having a SmartGun installed lets the drone know precisely what the weapon is pointed at. Especially handy if the weapon is turret mounted and not pointed in the direction the drone's visual camera is.

Besides, a SmartGun works with a SmartLink to grant a +2 bonus to shooting with the firearm; it won't work without both. A SmartGun accessory can be added to practically any firearm. A SmartLink can be added to a camera, which is what a drone uses to visually see what is around it. It might not make too much sense, but by RAW it works.

Personally I'd say that the drone has to have an appropriate Targeting autosoft to coordinate it all.
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Apr 17 2010, 07:58 PM
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Who said anything about stopping?
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Awry
post Apr 17 2010, 08:27 PM
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SpellBinder, drones can (and do) have many sensors, several of which are probably cameras. Some of these are bound to be connected to the weapon mount (personally, I'd say a drone without a camera and/or other sensors on its weapon mount would be unable to target). Adding a camera to the weapon and connecting it to the camera that's right beside it is kind of silly in my opinion.
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MikeKozar
post Apr 17 2010, 08:29 PM
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QUOTE (Awry @ Apr 17 2010, 11:44 AM) *
That would make absolutely no sense.

...

Drones without advanced targeting electronics and specialized software would simply be unable to fire. If you want to improve its targeting hardware/software, improve its sensor array and buy better targeting software. You could also make a case for drones with more sensors getting some sort of bonus.


What did I tell you about "heated discussions", AndyZ? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)

Awry, allow me to illustrate my point. Let's consider a standard Rotodrone. Out of the box, it has no weapon systems. If it does not include weapons, it doesn't include the systems to support weapons. There is no good reason to include 'advanced targeting electronics' in the cost of a drone that is not designed to use them. Hypothetically, my rigger buys a Rotodrone and adds a basic weapon mount to it. At this point he can install a firearm in the drone, but the drone is not yet able to use the firearm, because the weapon mount doesn't include software to use the weapon. If the weapon mount were able to target and fire the weapon itself without an autosoft, the mount would count as 'advanced targeting electronics' - but it can't. The obvious next step is to load in the autosoft that allows the drone to use the weapon, but let's pause for a minute before we do: the hardware we have purchased and installed up to this point (on a civilian drone) does not include a hardware-based targeting system; it can't even shoot the gun. The drone probably has a visual sensor system that allows it to model the environment, and it probably has fairly accurate information about the angle of the weapon in the mount. Once it knows (via autosoft) the firing characteristics of the weapon, it should be able to combine the information into a good estimate of where a round fired will end up. However, and this is the critical part - the actual targeting is being handled by the software. I assert that while it does include 'specialized software', it does not include, per your definition, 'advanced targeting electronics'. It includes a sensor array, designed for flight, surveillance, or whatever the original mission was - but the sensor system was not designed for combat and you haven't changed the sensor system.

A smartlink is more then just a guncam - it handles target identification, rangefinding, ammunition level, heat buildup, and material stress. The advanced calculations that the smartgun system provides allow for 'tremendous precision'. It is a high-tech targeting system. Could a drone get the same functionality without the smartlink, by simply running programs to calculate angle, estimate heat build up, monitor ammo and mode, etc? Of course it could. Those are just CPU cycles that it could be using for other tasks - dedicated hardware provides better performance then software solutions. You could easily build a drone powerful enough to get the same effect, of course - if you improve the Sensor rating or the Autosoft rating by 2, then your drone is working as well as a drone with a smartlink. If you added a smartlink to a drone that already had advanced sensors and targeting software, would the performance degrade? Of course not. Having more information available can only make your drone more effective. There is a point of diminishing returns, of course - a smartlink on a Ferret with Sensor 2 and Pistols 1 is going to be dramatically improved, while a Milspec drone with a pool of 12 is going to see little change on the firing range.

In conclusion, adding dedicated targeting hardware to a drone should logically provide superior targeting abilities. The only reason to deny smartlinks to drones is for game balance reasons - drones are already cheap and dangerous, so why should they get a cheap upgrade to make them more dangerous? I use the same rationale when I don't give smartlinked guns to gangers or low-level security guys: I prefer smartlinks to be a rare, RoboCop upgrade that impresses people, rather then an ubiquitous and therefore boring technology. If the CEO's office is guarded not only by the advanced drones that have been shooting up the team, but advanced prototypes with ex-ex rounds and smartlinks, then we just ratcheted up the tension. It makes for one more way to make things interesting, and I'm not interested in declaring them 'impossible' just because they get abused in other games.

tl,dr: More sensors = more accuracy. Also, used properly, smartlinks are fun, and fun is to be encouraged.
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Awry
post Apr 17 2010, 09:24 PM
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QUOTE
the hardware we have purchased and installed up to this point (on a civilian drone) does not include a hardware-based targeting system; it can't even shoot the gun. The drone probably has a visual sensor system that allows it to model the environment, and it probably has fairly accurate information about the angle of the weapon in the mount. Once it knows (via autosoft) the firing characteristics of the weapon, it should be able to combine the information into a good estimate of where a round fired will end up. However, and this is the critical part - the actual targeting is being handled by the software.

The Smartgun System is a sensor array (including some internal sensors), an electronic interface for controlling weapon, and targeting software. There is no indication that the sensor array is contains is unique, nor do unique 'combat sensors' appear anywhere in the book. There is also no indication that it contains any targeting hardware beyond the sensor array; it seems the targeting is done via software.

If the weapon mount did not have the electronic controls necessary to fire the weapon, and the internal weapon sensors to tell when the weapon is out of ammo, it would be pretty useless. Since you aren't required to install a smartgun system in a mounted weapon, one has to assume that the interface and internal sensors exist as part of the weapon mount.
Edit: according to Arsenal, this interface is included in a remote controlled weapon mount.

I would also like to stress, again, that a drone would find weapon statistics presented as visual information useless -- especially since it can have said information delivered directly into its system.

QUOTE
If you added a smartlink to a drone that already had advanced sensors and targeting software, would the performance degrade? Of course not. Having more information available can only make your drone more effective.

Just like how you could install several targeting autosofts to get a larger dice pool. Which you can't.
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Udoshi
post Apr 18 2010, 01:44 AM
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Drones can and do get smartlink bonuses. As long as they have both a smartlink and a smartgun.

According to my book(4a), a SmartGUN system does some stuff with Free actions, and this: "when used with a smartlink, it provides a +2 dice pool bonus on the ranged attack test."

Going over to Sensors, we find that vehicles may have sensor capacities, of which camers are an option, and they tell us to look at the Visual Sensors and Imaging Devices section. Going over there, we find that "the rating of vision sensors and imaging devices equals the number of vision enhancements that can be applied to the device.(p332)". Going over to the vision enhancements section, we find that smartlinks are in fact valid options and we find out how much they cost, and we already know how much space its going to take.

Is the drone armed? Yes.
Does the gun its armed with have a smartgun system? Yes
Does the drone have a Smartlink? Yes.
Done. Thats it, drones can benefit from smartlinks. But can it fire?
Does the drone have the appropriate Targeting autosoft for the gun its armed with? No. So give it the software it needs to shoot. (and a tacnet while you're at it.)

The only heated discussion on the topic is whether you need to pay for an image link with capacity/nuyen too(in my opinion, it shouldn't, because the camera's already hooked into the drone sensor package), or whether a remote rigger can use a drone's gun's smartlink, and what he needs to do that.(Short version: Give your rigger a smartlink somewhere.) Those are all questions to work out with your GM

MikeKozar: Sensors DO add to increased accuracy in shadowrun. But NOT the way you think they do. Different sensors interact differently with different vision penalties. A drone with thermal vision(which, lets face it, its dirt cheap and most everything should have it) in thermal smoke is just screwed for shooting anything(-6). If they happen to have radar or ultrasound, viola, improved accuracy for the conditions. Additionally, weapons have a certain Range dependent on their class. Vehicle(and drone) sensor packages also have a Signal, dependent on their size, and thus a max range dependant on that signal. Comparing the two will find out just how far your drone can shoot - if you want a drone to use a sniper rifle out to the 1500 meter max, it needs a sensor package that can see that far, possibly with an Improved Sensor Array modification from arsenal. That means signal 4(1km) to 5(4km) - ultrawideband radar won't cut it, because its always signal 2, but a Vision Magnification will(because zoom can reduce range penalties to Short via Take Aim)

Hope that clears things up.
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Jaid
post Apr 18 2010, 01:53 AM
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i see no reason the smartlink couldn't just skip the part where it converts the information into simsense and just feeds it directly to the drone. so arguing that it's simsense data really doesn't have any weight to it, in my opinion: it's data that had to be converted into simsense in the first place, which means it would actually be even easier to not convert it into simsense data.

as far as making sense, i would argue that it could very easily make sense. we have, today, microcontrollers that can handle specific tasks with far greater speed than a full computer can. the drone is essentially operating on a full computer. when you give it a dedicated peripheral hardware to perform a task without the need for anything like an operating system, and just let it only worry about machine code instead of working with higher languages, you can get it to work much more quickly. this could result in a shorter time for the information to reach the decision-making hardware in the smartgun, and a shorter time for the gun to adjust it's aim, which could very easily result in greater accuracy.
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Udoshi
post Apr 18 2010, 02:01 AM
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Unfortunately, jaid, shadowrun isn't the real world. The matrix doesn't use TCPIP. Trying to apply real world logic to fictional game mechanics will only lead you down a dark path of frustration, suffering, and the rules disagreeing with you.
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SpellBinder
post Apr 18 2010, 02:02 AM
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I'm with you regarding the drone needing an Imagelink, Udoshi.

Also, for that jumped in rigger I'm not sure that a Smartlink or an Imagelink would be required as said rigger is not using his/her eyes while jumped in (as Jaid is saying); it's all VR in this case, so the data is being transmitted directly to the rigger's brain and bypassing the Imagelink that must be installed in the eyes. But that's my opinion; you can have the riggers in your game need either or both if you feel they must. Honestly I'd expect most riggers to have rather tricked out cybereyes and SmartGun weapons to match, so the whole deal's moot (every rigger I've seen in every game I've ran & played have).
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Udoshi
post Apr 18 2010, 02:08 AM
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QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Apr 17 2010, 08:02 PM) *
Also, for that jumped in rigger I'm not sure that a Smartlink or an Imagelink would be required as said rigger is not using his/her eyes while jumped in (as Jaid is saying); it's all VR in this case, so the data is being transmitted directly to the rigger's brain and bypassing the Imagelink that must be installed in the eyes. But that's my opinion; you can have the riggers in your game need either or both if you feel they must. Honestly I'd expect most riggers to have rather tricked out cybereyes and SmartGun weapons to match, so the whole deal's moot (every rigger I've seen in every game I've ran & played have).


Pft. Its not about how the information is shared, its whether you have the right hardware or not.

Subscribe smartlink to control rig. Done. Now your smartlink and control rig are getting along fine with the drone at the far end, and everyone's happy, except the people on the recieving end of the barrel.
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Jaid
post Apr 18 2010, 02:26 AM
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QUOTE (Udoshi @ Apr 17 2010, 09:01 PM) *
Unfortunately, jaid, shadowrun isn't the real world. The matrix doesn't use TCPIP. Trying to apply real world logic to fictional game mechanics will only lead you down a dark path of frustration, suffering, and the rules disagreeing with you.

actually, in this particular case, the rules agree; the rules tell us what smartgun systems do. they tell us what they require. a drone can very easily satisfy the listed requirements for the smartgun system, and therefore can benefit from a smartgun system. i was merely pointing out that even in modern terms, this can make sense.
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Red-ROM
post Apr 18 2010, 04:18 AM
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I think that a targeting program of any kind would already be better than a smartlink, and already incorporate the same type of information. I don't see the two as compatable at all. Even if you allow it, I think there needs to be a Pilot + response test to see if the "dog brain" can use the added features of smart link, which aren't included with the program telling it how to shoot things.
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Falconer
post Apr 18 2010, 05:30 AM
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IIRC by very strict RAW... yes they can. I'm a bit more neutral on the whole thing though.

There's some aspects I think a little silly. WHAT is the purpose of a targeting autosoft which has to be bought by weapon skill type. It's to fire the weapon AND understand and calculate it's ballistics to aim it properly from sensor info. A full size vehicle sensor suite already includes rangefinders, radars, cameras etc... Smaller drones may lack portions but the smartlink SOFTWARE itself does nothing that the targeting autosoft doesn't.

Also, it's not a given that drones can necessarily take non-smartlinked weapons. See the Smart Firing Platform (which is an immobile tripod drone w/ a heavy weapons mount), the description says the gun has to be smartlinked. (arguably because smartlinked weapons are automated and can do things like unjam themselves w/ built in motors a normal gun doesn't have, or otherwise switch settings electronically). I'm not arguing they must be, just in some ways it makes a lot of sense for them to be (and the SFP may just be the exception which proves the rule). The off-the-shelf white knight LMG doesn't have a smartgun... then again a MG like it is the very essence of spray'n'pray.

Also, SIMSENSE NEVER COMES INTO IT. The smartgun and smartlink is a VISUAL OVERLAY (AR), simsense is something completely different. You don't need a sim module to run a smartlink!

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MikeKozar
post Apr 18 2010, 03:13 PM
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QUOTE (Falconer @ Apr 17 2010, 09:30 PM) *
Also, SIMSENSE NEVER COMES INTO IT. The smartgun and smartlink is a VISUAL OVERLAY (AR), simsense is something completely different. You don't need a sim module to run a smartlink!


It would be pretty cool if it did. Imagine if your bullets had touch sensors feeding back to you..."Brick Wall, Armor, Armor, Bone...oooo, organs! So squishy and delicious!"
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AndyZ
post Apr 18 2010, 08:50 PM
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I see lots of argument about smartlink. What about laser sight and tracer rounds?
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SpellBinder
post Apr 18 2010, 09:33 PM
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Though it's likely to open a new can of worms, I'd say yes to both. Mind, though, that SmartGun doesn't stack with Laser Sight or Tracer Rounds, but the way they're written a Laser Sight does stack with Tracer Rounds.
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Minchandre
post Apr 18 2010, 09:57 PM
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QUOTE (AndyZ @ Apr 18 2010, 02:50 PM) *
I see lots of argument about smartlink. What about laser sight and tracer rounds?


Laser sight - probably not. The drone should be able to easily infer where the gun is pointing by internal data about the actuators etc holding it.

I'd make a stronger case for tracer rounds, though, because where you think you're pointing a gun and where you're actually pointing it are going to be different for most weapons, especially at long ranges where you need to start considering ballistic effects (though, n.b. the smartlink will do that for you anyway!).
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Udoshi
post Apr 19 2010, 02:31 AM
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QUOTE (AndyZ @ Apr 18 2010, 02:50 PM) *
I see lots of argument about smartlink. What about laser sight and tracer rounds?


Smartguns incorporate a Laser Range Finder.

I don't see why a targeting autosoft wouldn't be able to go 'Hey, look, Camera sees a shiny dot there! Blam blam blam.' for a regular Laser Sight.

...and there's nothing in the rules that says 'hur hur, gimp drones, they don't get equipment bonuses.' Screw that. Drones are rather -smart- in shadowrun. They can perform complex surgery themselves(medicine), and fix mechanical faults and conduct repairs autonomously(lockheed vulcan), even construct buildings(Beaver).

I would think that proper configuration and use of equipment, even weapons, is included with the appropriate autosoft to use them. Whether its aiming a bullet hose of tracers, or a dot of light on a target. Even an automated postal drone can go 'Hey, look, there's a red light right in front of me. Traffic laws say stop at the intersection!'

Since Targeting autosofts replace weapon attack skills, (pistols, longarms, etcetera. SR4a 246), one could extend your arguement of 'drones don't get get to use laser sights, even with the right skill' to ' Well, your ork character has pistols, agility, and a gun with a laser sight - but not the knowledge skill to use it! haha, no dice for you'.

Does that sound stupid? It should. Cause it is.
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Jaid
post Apr 19 2010, 02:13 PM
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QUOTE (Minchandre @ Apr 18 2010, 05:57 PM) *
Laser sight - probably not. The drone should be able to easily infer where the gun is pointing by internal data about the actuators etc holding it.

I'd make a stronger case for tracer rounds, though, because where you think you're pointing a gun and where you're actually pointing it are going to be different for most weapons, especially at long ranges where you need to start considering ballistic effects (though, n.b. the smartlink will do that for you anyway!).

obviously you're working with different robots than the ones i'm working with. in general, robots really should be able to tell where their components are at. in practice, it isn't the least bit unusual to have to home them (ie make them run a subroutine that usually takes at least 10 seconds or more, the intent being to move them to a known location that doesn't rely on their internal sensors to tell where it is) on a regular basis, in my (somewhat limited, but probably above average) experience (i'm a student in a 2-year robotics program, about to finish the second year). needless to say, stopping to home your robot every time you fire a bullet and generate recoil that slightly upsets the robot's sense of where it's gun is pointing is not optimal. in this context, again... i don't find it particularly upsetting that a smartgun system would give a drone added accuracy. while it is certainly true that not everything in shadowrun makes perfect logical sense in a real-world context, in this particular case i find it doesn't really strain my suspension of disbelief in the slightest.
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D2F
post Apr 19 2010, 03:07 PM
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QUOTE (Udoshi @ Apr 18 2010, 02:01 AM) *
Trying to apply real world logic to fictional game mechanics will only lead you down a dark path of frustration, suffering, and the rules disagreeing with you.

Logic is absolute. Whether in a virtual environment, a fictional environment or reality, logic is absolute. You can argue that real world mechanics or physics don't apply (even though they do for the most part), but you simply cannot argue that logic does not apply. That's ridiculous!
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