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TheEarCollector
May 10th, 2005, 01:21 AM
Alright, I know this might seem like a mundane little detail, but the method of driving vehicles is actually kind of important in a story I am working on. Drivers don't use their hands at all, so they can keep them available for weapon use (which makes me think open cockpit). Instead, they use they feet to control thrust to the left or right engine; more thrust on the left engine means it will be pushed to the right and vice versa (leading me to create seats with a back so the driver has something to push against).

So, as you can see the needs of your vehicles in SF stories eventually help them create themselves, but then you run into a problem. You don't want a military vehicle that is TOO different from your civilian vehicles, but wouldn't it be odd to drive around without your hands? What would you be using your hands for? Alright I know I am getting hung up on this little thing but I seriously need to know lol...

More importantly, maybe other writers who have come up with ideas for their settings can give us the reasons behind them so we better understand the little details that go into the writing that we might not notice or understand otherwise.

kater
May 10th, 2005, 07:15 AM
You don't want a military vehicle that is TOO different from your civilian vehicles, but wouldn't it be odd to drive around without your hands? What would you be using your hands for? Alright I know I am getting hung up on this little thing but I seriously need to know lol...


Sounds a lot like horseriding only with machines to me. When you think about the joust the rider has a shield and lance so all that is used is the pressure from the thighs (and if you suck at riding like me his calves :D ) so in the case of your society perhaps their vehicles evolved from the basic principles of equestrian. Further perhaps the soldiers/warriors/military only have one hand, the other being purposefully removed to make way for some from of device; a weapon, an all purpose tool .. the options are limitless, that allows them to do things civvies can't. After all the military always ends up with the best equipment. Your world could have a law where all technological developments have to go through the government/military and anything they deem 'dangerous' or likely to put potential perps on an even footing with the policing/military system simply doesn't get mass produced or released for public consumption. Thus crime is on the hang low because they are low tech and are highly likely to get caught .... until someone steals military grade technology :D The possibilities with sf are limitless :)

I'm currently trying to work out what would go into a generation ship, my Earth has been destroyed and in classic Noah's Ark style the world has sent its (arguably) best and brightest out into the cosmos. The ship was built in a rush so the occupants are constantly modifying it to accomodate changes in technology and population (although a strict quota of children per year is in place so they aren't rebuilding the whole thing) I also am trying to work out an explorer craft for my protagonist who searches new planets to colonise. At the moment I have craft with thrusters on the front and back but it would use a lot of fuel which for a small craft isn't much cop, unless the thing is almost all fuel and guidance systems. Making it a flying accident waiting to happen and thus my protagonist has balls of steel ... for a woman :D

TheEarCollector
May 10th, 2005, 08:18 AM
I never thought of it evolving from an equestrian society... Originally I wanted to have motorcycle-esque vehicles that were driven by thigh pressure but as I looked deeper into it, I realize that that would cause a conflict with other vehicle types (not that there isn't a difference between motorcycles and cars, I am just trying to create distinct differences between civilizations).


At the moment I have craft with thrusters on the front and back but it would use a lot of fuel which for a small craft isn't much cop, unless the thing is almost all fuel and guidance systems. Making it a flying accident waiting to happen and thus my protagonist has balls of steel ... for a woman
Something I was actually trying to come up with, and maybe this will help give you an idea... I had long range craft that actually suck the energy out of the air (making it cold around the vehicle) to propel themselves. This wouldn't work at a slow speed because all of the energy in the air would be sapped pretty quickly, but it would work for moving at high speeds across warm terrain. It actually turned out that way as a coincidence because they are very into ghosts, and one of the things that happens when ghosts are around is that it gets colder, so they say that the REAL reason you are getting those cold chills down your spine when you are riding that fast is because you are putting all of your faith in your ancestors to guide you (since you lose more control at higher speeds). I hope that makes sense. Of course that left starting up and cold days... So I finished up these long range craft with electricity to propel them when there wasn't enough heat in the air (or maybe I will use a real fuel still... the point is that the actual fuel source could now be limited).

Maybe you could come up with a way for your exploration ship to collect gases or stardust and recycle them... You don't need a constant energy source in space to propel you so you just have to keep enough for the push in every direction (and then small boosters that shoot out compressed air or something all over so that when you change direction you don't need to use more thrust). Just an idea, tell me if that works... And tell me if you can think of anything else for my heat-powered vehicles... I don't even know if that is feasible.

Expendable
May 10th, 2005, 10:32 AM
Are these going to be smart machines, AI types? Semi-intelligent machines that can drive themselves and take direction? Smarter machines that talk back and argue?

MrBF1V3
May 10th, 2005, 11:23 AM
I know someone who had his car adapted with hand controls because he couldn't use of his legs, I believe it is possible to adapt a vehicle for someone who doesn't use their hands, but I haven't seen it yet. I've seen a drum set adapted for somone with one arm.

If someone was using vehicles adapted with foot only controls so they could have their hands free to use weapons, I'm sure those cars would be illegal in California by the end of the week ;).

But none of that is science fiction. You want the same idea, but much more user friendly. Start with the basic things you need to be able to control a vehicle: go, stop, right, left, and music volume. You could put all that on a toggle disk on the floor board. It would take a bit of practice to be able to run, but so does a regular car these days.

B5

TheEarCollector
May 10th, 2005, 04:16 PM
Not smart machines, controlled machines... means of transportation.
And yes I realize that you can drive without hands, I use my knees to drive all the time (don't tell the popo)

Expendable
May 10th, 2005, 04:43 PM
The DARPA Grand Challenge (http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge/) was all about self-driving vehicles. If you're going to be too busy firing weapons to drive, then someone's got to drive for you or you combine controls, like for a fighter jet. With computer-controlled targetting systems.

kater
May 10th, 2005, 05:58 PM
Something I was actually trying to come up with, and maybe this will help give you an idea... I had long range craft that actually suck the energy out of the air (making it cold around the vehicle) to propel themselves. This wouldn't work at a slow speed because all of the energy in the air would be sapped pretty quickly, but it would work for moving at high speeds across warm terrain.
And tell me if you can think of anything else for my heat-powered vehicles... I don't even know if that is feasible.

Funnily enough it is although not quite in the same way. I was talking to a friend recently who I met while in uni in the US two years ago, who designs engines for fighter planes and he was telling me about an R+D unit just up the road from him in Washington that had come up with a Cryogenic Heat Engine which uses the concept of a steam engine without combustion.

In basic terms they use liquid nitrogen as a propellant, which is stored at roughly -300F in a tank in the car. The air moving around the vehicle is used to heat the liquid nitrogen to a boil. Once the liquid nitrogen boils, it turns to gas in the same way that heated water forms steam in a steam engine.
The nitrogen gas formed expands to about 700 times the volume of its liquid form. This highly pressurized gas is then converted into mechanical power by pushing on the engine's pistons. The only exhaust is nitrogen, and since nitrogen is a major part of the atmosphere (about 80% I think), the car gives off little pollution. I didn't understand all that he said but it seems they have a prototype up and running but its in it's infancy. There is potential there we will just have to wait and see when mankind gets desperate enough to need it. It would certainly make an excelent buidling block in the evolution of your vehicles. One question - do your vehicles have wheels? For some reason I seem to have imagined them as hovering craft :confused:

MrBF1V3
May 10th, 2005, 06:00 PM
Not smart machines, controlled machines... means of transportation.
And yes I realize that you can drive without hands, I use my knees to drive all the time (don't tell the popo)


... so you can use a weapon?

If you're going to do that it's better to let your co-pilot take the wheel, that way you can even reload without worrying about the road. :rolleyes:

B5

TheEarCollector
May 10th, 2005, 06:04 PM
I imagine my vehicles as hovering craft as well ;) As least the one in question when I am talking about sapping energy out of heat in the air. The nitrogen is interesting but I am trying to devise a fuel-free method for longer distances (so you have some fuel to get it started and then move at low speeds, but then the heat sapping kicks in at higher speeds... or maybe even gas to start it, heat sapping at cruising speeds, and fuel for bursts of speed)...