The Automated Ore Extraction System “Sunspot”, built by Drone Systems International, was the first fully autonomous mining drone.
Small, slow, ugly and not very smart, it immediately became amazingly popular with mining companies for a simple reason – it could reduce costs dramatically and lower miner accidents to almost zero.
Since it did not require an operator, it also significantly lowered miner employment, igniting the first sparks for the future Uprising.
As a mining drone, Sunspot was a part of a larger ecosystem of drones that worked together in asteroid fields. It was only responsible for ore separation. Equipped with a mining laser, its job was to cut the asteroids into smaller pieces that would then be collected and transported to a processing plant by a separate drone.
This division of labor between various drone types enabled DSI to build drones that were simple and cheap, using standard components. It also created robust systems, since a failure of a single drone rarely meant that the whole system would grind to a halt.
Sunspot’s AI was rather rudimentary, with limited learning ability, mostly focused on asteroid detection and analysis, maneuverability, and teamwork. The drone was never expected to function in dynamic environments with a lot of changing variables.
As a result, it spent most of the War quietly mining away and fueling the war effort of both main sides of the conflict. It was a popular raid target and hundreds of thousands were destroyed, but usually quickly replaced.
“The DSI Sunspot. Mine your way.”
“Terms and Conditions apply.”
“DSI is not responsible for any damage caused to you, your property, your feelings, or reputation.”
“DSI limited warranty applies. See appendixes F to O for warranty exceptions.”
– excerpt from the corporate DSI website
- this is one ugly ship! It was supposed to look rough and cheap.
- the wheels at the back (“engines”) move. I am not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing
The instruction steps are a bit messed up. I also found no way of connecting the back properly, but hopefully combined with the photos here, it will give you enough information.