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Tag Archives: Expanded Universe

Real Star Wars – The Cybernetics


Cybernetics

via wikia.com

In the Star Wars universe, a cybernetic replacement was any type of biomechanical device that was used to replace body parts ranging from internal organs to limbs. Prosthetic replacements were connected to organic tissue through a complex synthetic neural interface, which provided the recipient with control and sensation. External replacements were often covered by synthflesh (which bonds the flesh until it can be repaired) to emulate actual organic tissue. Cybernetics were used for replace lost limbs and damaged organs or to enhance the patient which would bestow new abilities or improve the patient’s performance in normal or even abnormal settings and circumstances.

Anakin Skywalker's Original Mechno-arm

via wikia.com

Anakin Skywalker had a mechno-arm, a custom-made prosthetic limb constructed after the loss of his right arm during a duel with Count Dooku on Geonosis. A great deal of Darth Vader’s ravaged body was supported by prosthetic replacements; although, they had a comparatively low quality compared to others. Vader’s artificial limbs were incredibly heavy and purposely badly made, frequently snagging on the inside of his suit. However, despite the low quality, his artificial limbs never tired or weakened.

The cyborg, General Grievous, was forced to have almost his entire body replaced by cybernetic parts after a near-fatal shuttle crash. Though he retained his vital organs, such as his brain, eyes, heart and stomach, nearly everything else was cybernetic.

Luke Skywalker was also fitted with a prosthetic hand after losing his own during a duel with his father on the planet Bespin. This hand was replaced during his brief service to the resurrected Emperor. The replacement was later severed during a duel with Lumiya, so he was given yet another replacement prosthesis.

Many others have also received prosthetic limbs and organs in the Expanded Universe.

Prostheses also appears in Star Trek, Terminator, Babylon 5, and RoboCop, as well as in other science fiction films, fantasy films, Japanese anime, manga, books, and video games.

Advanced Robotic Arm

via physorg.com

In real-life, an artificial limb (also known as a prosthetic limb) is a type of prosthesis that replaces a missing extremity, such as arms or legs. The type of artificial limb used is determined largely by the extent of an amputation or loss and location of the missing extremity. Artificial limbs may be needed for a variety of reasons where a body part is either missing from the body or is too damaged to be repaired, including disease, accidents, and congenital defects. A congenital defect can create the need for an artificial limb when a person is born with a missing or damaged limb. Prosthetics are; however, not needed in the event of an accident where only the nerves were damaged and not the extremeties. Industrial, vehicular, and war related accidents are the leading cause of amputations in developing areas, such as large portions of Africa. In more developed areas, such as North America and Europe, disease is the leading cause of amputations. Cancer, infection and circulatory disease are the leading diseases that may lead to amputation. Body parts such as legs, arms, hands, feet, and others can be replaced. (See Wikipedia)

Luke Skywalker's Prosthetic Hand

via wikia.com

Some robotic limbs are neural prosthetics—they have the ability to take signals from the human brain and translate those signals into motion in the artificial limb. DARPA, the Pentagon’s research division, plans to create an artificial limb that ties directly into the nervous system.

Targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) is a technique in which motor nerves, which previously controlled muscles on an amputated limb, are surgically rerouted such that they reinnervate a small region of a large, intact muscle.

The targeted sensory reinnervation (TSR) procedure is similar to TMR, except that sensory nerves are surgically rerouted to skin on the chest, rather than motor nerves rerouted to muscle. The patient then feels any sensory stimulus on that area of the chest, such as pressure or temperature, as if it were occurring on the area of the amputated limb which the nerve originally innervated.

Some patients even have special limbs and devices to aid in the participation in sports and other recreational activities.

Within science fiction (in this case, Star Wars), and, more recently, within the scientific community, there has been consideration given to using advanced prostheses to replace healthy body parts with artificial mechanisms and systems to improve their functions. The morality and desirability of such technologies are currently being debated. One healthy scientist, has had a robotic arm since the year 2002 that was directly interfaced into his own nervous system. (See Wikipedia)

The "Luke Arm"

via spectrum.ieee.org

Dean Kamen has designed the ”Luke arm”, a prosthesis named after the prosthetic worn by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Its fate currently rests in the hands of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has funded the project.

Artificial Robotic Heart

via digitalmarsh.wordpress.com

In Star Wars, most of General Grevious’s internal organs were replaced with artificial organs to keep the surviving organs from dying. In Terminator Salvation, Marcus Wright’s internal organs are living, but the rest of him is simply cybernetics.

In real-life, an artificial organ is a man-made device that is implanted into, or integrated onto, a human to replace a natural organ, for the purpose of restoring a specific function or a group of related functions so the patient may return to as normal a life as possible. The replaced function does not necessarily have to be related to life support, but often is.

The purposes of artifical organs is for life support to prevent imminent death while awaiting a transplant (e.g. artificial heart), dramatic improvement of the patient’s ability for self-care (e.g. artificial limb), improvement of the patient’s ability to interact socially (e.g. cochlear implant), or cosmetic restoration after cancer surgery or an accident.

Brain pacemakers, including deep brain stimulators, send electrical impulses to the brain in order to relieve depression, epilepsy, tremors of Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions such as increased bladder secretions. Rather than replacing existing neural networks to restore function, these devices often serve by disrupting the output of existing malfunctioning nerve centers to eliminate symptoms.

The most successful function-replacing artificial eye so far is actually an external miniature digital camera with a remote unidirectional electronic interface implanted on the retina, optic nerve, or other related locations inside the brain. The present state of the art yields only very partial functionality, such as recognizing levels of brightness, swatches of color, and/or basic geometric shapes, proving the concept’s potential. While the living eye is indeed a camera, it is also much more than that.

Ears, eyes, cardia, heart, limbs, liver, lungs, pancreas, bladder, and other types of organs can all be replaced. (See Wikipedia)

General Grevious

via wikia.com

This is, perhaps, one of the most developed areas of (movie) technology that we have covered so far. While, prosthesis is not quite as advanced as it is in the movies, the artificial limbs and organs still can accomplish the tasks and purposes that they were intended for. So now that we have an idea of how this all works, who is up for replacing their limbs with robotic arms?

Real Star Wars – The Walker


AT-AT walkers

via ultimatedvd.org

In the Star Wars films, walkers were vehicles that were usually military, that used mechanical legs as its primary method of locomotion over the landscape rather than the more common repulsors, wheels, or treads. Its primary use was for ground assault or transport.

In the original trilogy (the first three Star Wars movies made, IV, V, and VI), there is the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) and the All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST). In the prequel trilogy (the last three movies made I, II, and III) and the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there are numerous other types of walkers.

Star Wars has popularized the use of walkers and mecha in various media, which usually bear a similar resemblance to the bipedal AT-ST. Star Wars walkers have inspired the use of mecha in film, video games, board games, books, TV shows, and Japanese anime. George Lucas claims that he got the original idea for walkers from the cargo lifters which reside in the port of Oakland.

The definition of Mecha from Wikipedia:

Mecha, also known as meka or mechs, is a broad genre of walking vehicles which are usually controlled by a pilot. Mecha often appear in anime, science fiction, and other genres involving fantastic or futuristic elements. Mecha are generally, though not necessarily, bipedal, with arms, hands, and usually fingers capable of grasping objects. A mecha that approximates the shape of a human body allows the use of martial arts movements and swordsmanship, ceremonial acts of honor, saluting, and other human mannerisms that cannot be performed using a tank or airplane.

In most fiction in which they appear, mecha are war machines: essentially armored fighting vehicles with legs instead of treads or wheels. Some stories, such as the manga Patlabor and American wargame BattleTech, also encompass mecha used for civilian purposes such as heavy construction work, police functions or firefighting.

Some science fiction universes posit that mecha are the primary means of combat, with conflicts sometimes being decided through gladiatorial matches. Others represent mecha as one component of an integrated military force, supported by and fighting alongside tanks, fighter aircraft, and infantry, functioning as a mechanical cavalry. The applications often highlight the theoretical usefulness of such a device, combining a tank’s resilience and fire power with infantry’s ability to cross unstable terrain. In other cases they are demonstrated with a greater versatility in armament, such as in the Armored Core series of video games where mecha can utilize their hands to carry a wide range of armament in the same manner as a person albeit on a much larger scale.

The distinction between true mecha and their smaller cousins (and likely progenitors), the powered armor suits [also known as powered exoskeletons], is blurred; according to one definition, a mecha is piloted while a powered armor is worn. Anything large enough to have a c*ckpit where the pilot is seated is generally considered a mecha.Read more…

In real-life a walker (also known as a mecha), is a vehicle that moves on legs rather than wheels or tracks. Walkers have been constructed with anywhere from one to more than eight legs. They are classified according to the number of legs with common configurations being one leg (pogo stick or “hopper”), two legs (biped), four legs (quadruped), and six legs (hexapod).

Walking Truck (Cybernetic Walking Machine)

via commons.wikimedia.org

The Walking Truck (Cybernetic Walking Machine) was an experimental quadruped robot built by General Electric in 1968. It was designed by Ralph Mosher to help infantry carry equipment over rough terrain. The stepping of the robot was controlled by a human operator through foot and hand movements coupled to hydraulic valves. The complex movements of the legs and body pose were done entirely through hydraulics. The hydraulic fluid and pressure was supplied through an off-board system. The Walking Truck can be seen at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum in Fort Eustis, VA. (Wickelgren, 1996). The robot weighted 3,000 pounds and could walk up to 5 miles an hour. It was exhausting to control and operators, according to program lead Ralph Mosher who was the primary driver, could only drive the Walking Truck for a limited time.
See Full Wikipedia Article.

Land Walker

via sakakibara-kikai.co.jp

The Land Walker is a one-man, two-legged supposed walker transport, 3.40 metres in height. Made with the assistance of P.A. Technology, the walker is copyright of the Sakakibara Kikai Co. and Ltd.
The vehicle’s design features a c*ckpit, two legs, and two air cannons (each firing large rubber balls which ironically cost more than bullets). The legs end in feet containing wheels that help push the walker forward. The walker’s usual speed is approximately 1.5 km/h. It does not actually walk, however, instead shuffling on wheels hidden under its “feet.” This means it is not technically a walker; it merely has the appearance of one.
See Full Wikipedia Article.

This mecha will not work on terrain that is not entirely flat as it would just fall over.

T-52 Enryu (Rescue Dragon)

via dvice.com

The T-52 Enryu (T-52 援竜, lit. rescue dragon), sometimes referred to as “HyperRescueRobot”, is a five-ton, 3 meter tall (approx. 10 ft), hydraulically-operated robot, built to cut a path through debris for rescue workers, in the wake of an earthquake or other catastrophe. It can perform heavy lifting of up to one ton, and its arms have the full range of motion available to the human arm. The Enryu was designed by the Japanese company Tmsuk, and a prototype was unveiled in March, 2004 in Japan.

As of 2006, the robot conducted a performance test at Nagaoka University of Technology and successfully lifted a car from a snowbank.

TMSUK developed the robot in cooperation with Kyoto University, the Kitakyushu Fire Department and Japan’s National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster in Tokyo. The 3.5 metre-tall robot can either be driven from a c*ckpit positioned at the front of the robot or it can be controlled remotely as like its cousin the Banryu, it contains multiple CCD cameras which transmit to the remote driver – in this case, it has seven 6.8-megapixel CCD cams mounted on its “head”, “torso” and “arms”.
See Full Wikipedia Article.

Walking Forest Machine

via robotory.com

John Deere’s hexapod Walking Forest Machine is a type of real walker.

LittleDog

via bostondynamics.com

Two smaller walkers, that do not carry a pilot (or passengers), are BigDog and LittleDog who are both used in the military.

AT-ST walker

via carrotnetwork.com

Real walkers have been created and are quite possible, although many are limited. For more information on the practicality of mecha as war machines, click here.

Real Star Wars – The Lightsaber


Lightsabers

via starwars.wikia.com

In the Star Wars films, lightsabers (also called laser swords by the uneducated) are depicted as a one-handed or two-handed weapon that have a polished metal hilt (between about twenty and thirty-five centimeters in length typically) which projects a blade of plasma energy (suspended in a force containment field) about 39 inches long (one meter). The blade did not radiate heat or expend energy until it came into contact with a solid object, although it could cut through almost anything (except for a few lightsaber-resistant materials). The field contained the immense heat of the plasma, protecting the wielder, and allowed the blade to keep its shape. The plasma was projected through a set of focusing crystals (three crystals would usually be used, although only one was required) that lent the blade its properties and allowed the adjustment of the blade length and power output.

In the Expanded Universe, lightsabers had many blade and hilt variation. Each lightsaber was designed to meet the user’s specific needs, preferences, and styles. They were primarily used during combat and rituals.

Obi-Wan Kenobi allows himself to be struck down by Darth Vader's lightsaber

via starwars.wikia.com

In real-life, light cannot be formed and utilized into a solid blade (as it is designed to travel continuously and not be stopped, in this case, at three feet without completely restricting the strength of the rest of the blade), there are other alternatives; however, including plasma swords (similar to those in Halo), black holes, and carbon nanotubes.

Plasma Sword from Halo

via wikia.com

Many commandos can easily die from blood loss from traumatic wounds due to gunfire, shrapnel, or from even grenades. That is why, the military has already started field-testing a Plasma Knife. It will be used for emergencies when the commandos are without the luxury of medical backup while in the field.

The knife’s blade consists of heated, ionized gas, which easily cuts through flesh and cauterizes the wound on contact. Through cauterization, the damaged flesh can be protected from excessive bleeding and infection. A normal medical Plasma Knife relies primarily on a strong power source, but the commando version’s only drawback is it’s low-power although it is wearable and easily transported.

While it can not be used as a weapon very easily (as it would quickly run out of power), it is still pretty close to a ‘real’ lightsaber like the ones shown in the movies.

A Carbon Nanotube

via cnano-rhone-alpes.org

A thin, carbon nanotube wire (a nano is a billionth of a meter), strong enough to not break, but thin enough to cut through a solid object could be used to make a weapon that could slice through almost anything.

The problem with this idea is that, the user or the victim could not see the ‘blade’ because of its small size resulting in an accidental injury or fatality, or even the possibility of it being misplaced. In order for it to be handled properly, a handle would be needed at one end; however, it would throw off the balance of the whole weapon itself because of the lack of a equal amount of weight on the opposite end. This could possibly be solved if the ‘sharp end’ had a magnet on it and the handle end had an electromagnet stretching the carbon nanotube out; however, it would only be able to be used for slicing or cutting not stabbing.

A wedge-like blade would not work because it bends the top of what it is slicing, often creating cracks in the object or victim instead of a sharp clean cut.

A black hole could be used as a weapon someday...

via io9.com

A small black hole could not be used, at this point, because it is too heavy to wield and because of its short lifespan (resulting in a massive ball of fire).

It has also been suggested that a lightsaber could use glass filaments that extend when gigawatts of laser energy (stored in a non-existent power source) are pumped through it when it is turned on.

Spyder III Pro Arctic

via wickedlasers.com

The Spyder III Pro Arctic is one (if not, the one) of the most lightsaber-like weapon that actually exists in real-life. The Spyder III, made by Wicked Lasers, is also the most powerful portable laser that uses only 1 Watt released that costs a mere $200. The blue-laser diode is from a dismantled Casio projector (the new mercury-free Green Slim projector, specifically) that Wicked Lasers used to make it. They are also throwing in a free pair of safety-glasses with the purchase of the Spyder III.

Wicked Lasers mentioned that, “Extremely dangerous is an understatement to the power of 1W of laser power. It will blind permanently and instantly and set fire quickly to skin and other body parts, use with extreme caution and only when using the included eye protection. Customers will be required to completely read and agree to our Class IV Laser Hazard Acknowledgment Form.

If you are not trained in the Jedi arts, then this is not for you.

While there needs to be quite a lot of development in these kinds of technology, we can still dream, and maybe someday some brilliant scientist or student could eventually make one without making it completely out of plastic (or paper). Who knows, maybe we could find a way to make lasers to stop at a point (without it being fatal) for a real, practical, working lightsaber.