Transforming technology was hardly unknown, first coming into being in the middle of the Clockwork Age. Based on small programming boxes unimaginatively called transforming cubes, the concept of transforming technology was pretty straightforward. It was called system delegation.
The idea was that once the operator activate the transformation, the information would be sent from the main rig to the various cubes placed on specific parts of the machine. The designers would need to program information into the cubes beforehand of course but once activated, the programming in the cubes would kick in and change the shape of the part they were in charge of into its second form. Using the Dive, I got a good look at the transforming cubes of the Clockwork Age and found that the DP for them to be very low.
I was not surprised. Despite it being over a century since its invention, transforming technology was considered a niche technology as no one had really been successful in manufacturing such machines for the general public. There were a few successes of course but these were almost all prototypes designed to showcase the idea of transforming technology than anything else.
I know this. I also know that if I managed to successfully manufacture a suit that could transform into a vehicle for the public, I would own the market. Hell, I would be making the market!
So for the next ten days, I read up on transforming technology and the reasons why the technology never caught on. Looking through the solar net, I saw that there were several papers on the niche technology, some of which were pretty recent. I was hardly the first person who thought of making modern transforming machines but it seems everyone before me faced the same problem; no one could solved the problem of the hybrid nature of the machines.
A prime example was a tank that could transform into a mech called The Grimmer. Made by the Technological Institute of Vienna, The Grimmer was widely considered to be a successful early prototype of the technology and the institute were so confident of it that they marketed it as a revolutionary weapon that could warfare as they know it.
Serving dual roles as a tank as well as a mech, The Grimmer had such a successful test that the Dual Monarchy ordered a hundred of them for its army. However its limitations became abundantly clear once WWI started. As a mech, The Grimmer was only eight meters tall. During that era, medium and heavy mechs came in at around fifteen and twenty meters tall respectively while small light mechs usually came in at around ten to twelve meters. Smaller and shorter than even a light mech, there wasn’t much use for The Grimer as a mech.
The same problem occurred as a tank. The transforming tank could do the job well enough. In over fifty tests, it did not suffer any major failure and its safety record was pretty impressive for a new weapon but The Grimmer was slow and more importantly, its range was poorer than normal tanks.
The big problem for the designers was the fact that a mech needed to be heavy and armored to withstand small arms fire and that required The Grimmer to have extra parts. Parts that make The Grimmer less usable as a tank. As a WWI general said, “The Grimmer is a jack of two trades and the master of neither.”
It was a cauldron all the designers faced and thus far no one have totally fixed the issue. Some had even begun speculating that this was a design flaw that came naturally with transforming technology. In a way, that makes some sense to me but I still intend to try to solve the issue. Guess having a successful model under my name has made me ambitious.
Transforming technology may not be new but I found that there are many methods and techniques that had not been tried yet. One of them was steam technology. From everything I read, no one had tried using transforming technology on older forms of technology like steam or if they did, no one had successfully managed to do so. I would be the first.
While researching the technology, I also discovered an interesting paper written by a team of researchers in Chennai. The team wrote a paper over a decade ago on the preferred ratio of mass and functionality during transformation. I don’t understand half of it but in layman terms, the paper basically state that mass do not magically disappear or appear during transformation. For example, the exhaust of a vehicle does not disappear when it transform in to a mech. The designer would need to find a place to put the exhaust when it is in the mech form and vice versa.
After looking through the paper, I quickly found that The Maid was a poor suit to try the technology on. The Maid was an exoskeleton suit and it was just not big enough to transform into a vehicle. A suit like the Steambot, which is three meters tall and had more mass and parts, had a better chance of succeeding.
By this time it has been over two weeks since I began researching transforming technology and Jaya had begun chasing me for new designs again. Unfortunately for him, I had nothing to give him. I was still at the starting line.
Since I was going nowhere, I began to wonder if I was going about this wrong. Was I focusing too much on the suit and not enough on the vehicle? Experience had taught me that you cannot be too rigid in your thinking and this was such a case. I decided to have a total do over.
Having a good idea is important because without a good idea, then the results will be poor. Having said that, having a good idea is useless if you are not able to implement it. In life, one must be flexible and since The Maid was unsuitable, I decided to abandon it and go in another direction.
I believe the problem was that I was thinking too big. Like every designer before me, I wanted to change a suit totally into a vehicle and vice versa. Maybe all of us failed because that was the wrong way to go about the matter. We were all too ambitious. We were trying to shoot for the moon and that was why all of us failed. I should just aim to get into orbit first.
I went back to the Dive and searched. I didn’t really have an idea of what to look for, I was just looking at all the vehicles, suits and parts available in LoW. The list was exhaustive but by chance, fate or destiny I found what I was looking for. It was a Grade 0 clockwork part called The Rolling Clocktrack.
A stupid name but it spoke to me. My imagination ran and I realized how the part could suit my purpose. I called up The Jumpbot and after some thought, I began to work. Flexibility was the key. I maintained this mentality and slowly work on a variation of the Jumpbot. The end result I got was something unexpected, and very exciting.