automated ships a good or bad idea?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by killerbee256, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. killerbee256

    killerbee256 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Jan 24, 2014
    Is it just me or is a mostly automated ship very bad idea, in this case a ship like in to darkness's USS Vengeance. All it would take is one boarding party to cripple the ship or in the case of the Borg take it over. Just think of it all the Borg would have to do is beam some drones over to eject nano probes into the computer core.
  2. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Jul 23, 2001
    Everything about the USS Vengeance is silly in general. It's basically Admiral Marcus's flying moustache twirl.
  3. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    They can do that with any ship.

    Indeed, it's more dangerous for them to attack a fully crewed one, since it will then have a ready made supply of drones...
  4. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 20, 2012
    The idea of separating out huge parts of the ship is kind of silly to me. It makes much more sense to have automated detachable parts that are just mobile weapons platforms.

    I suppose when you watch Star Trek you have to drink the production cool-aid that the most effective way to wage war is to use a lot of kilometer long barely maneuverable high surface area art-deco pieces with the most vulnerable areas jutting out on the sides and the command center directly on the surface.

    There's no reason not to have it automated, if a raiding party can somehow get aboard and get hold of usable command codes they can control the ship whether or not it's automated. If *waves hand* designing your warships around dragging your living areas around with your combat units is a good idea, the Vengeance makes perfect sense.
  5. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Nov 22, 2001
    Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
    I've always felt that all starships are generally automated, with the crew only there to supervise and maintain their operation. Only when manual override is selected does the crew genuinely have hands-on control of a ship, IMO.

    I look at the Vengeance as being more of a combination weapons platform/troop transport, that you basically just point at whatever target you want to destroy. Basically a big warp-powered gun.
  6. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    Yes. Yes it is a terrible idea. Some ships will have a high degree of automation, depending on its size, crew complement and design function, but would always need a decent number of men, women and others to operate it effectively.

    But then again most things about STID are ridiculous.

    I always saw it as serious over compensation for lacking in other areas, you know, like an original plot :lol:
  7. Xerxes1979

    Xerxes1979 Captain Captain

    Apr 18, 2009
    Gamma Hydra Section 10
    Automated ships are a good idea, especially during war. The idea that the Federation could ever lose a battle of attrition to the Dominion was ludicrous.

    The M-5 already proved that it was tactically superior to a greater number of identical manned vessels and exocomps demonstrated that men are not needed to affect mechanical repairs. The only thing Starfleet was running low on was people! Send in the M-5, send in the Emergency Command Hologram.

    Wasn't the Delta Flyer built on a resource starved ship in a few days? Thousands of industrial replicators must exist in the Federation. The total ship production potential must be astronomical.
  8. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

    May 3, 2003
    Portland, OR

  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Well, the Vengeance was not "automated" as such. It probably had a combat crew in the thousands - it was just built with enough automation that Marcus could use his mercenaries for a single noncombat sortie (that is, a sortie where there's zero chance of anybody firing back).

    Crew is what you want in combat, even if it means putting lives at risk, because crew is flexible while automation even in Trek times is not. Crew can repair automation, and in extreme distress replace parts of it. Cases of automation repairing automation, or automation repairing crew, remain quite experimental in the TNG era.

    As for raiding, a crewed ship is full of potential hostages. An automated ship can unleash deadly forces within for purging the raiders from her innards, without having to mind any innocent bystanders. But raiding is really an insignificant threat in Trek combat: it requires the lowering of shields, which exposes the ship to far greater risks already.

    Fighting automation of the M-5 style is probably what all starships in the TNG era have as a default. The TNG ships just have a better-working on/off switch, with Worf pushing On when Picard says "Attack pattern Tango Foxtrot Lambada!" and Off when he says "Damage report" or "Suggestions" or "Hail them" or otherwise prevaricates. Full autonomy in fighting is what Starfleet would rather do without, for various reasons. But things with remote control or kill switches are okay.

    Timo Saloniemi
  10. YARN

    YARN Fleet Captain

    Aug 8, 2010
    Indeed, after running the EMH long enough, he effectively became a person. Come up with the best ECH possible, and you have an indefinite number of the best "people" aboard your ships.

    ECH and M5, a winning combination.

    Or create a ship-size holo-emitter, and create a fleet of holo-ships!
  11. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Sep 10, 2012
    USS Berlin
    With the exception of the Borg, that is?!

    However, it seemed a concern in the changed time line or parallel universe (depending on your point of view ;)) of "Yesterday's Enterprise". On the "Battleship" Enterprise-D many officers were apparently wearing sidearms to repel Klingon boarders (suggesting that ships were rather captured as a prize than being destroyed?).

  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Open display of personal weapons might be purely symbolic, too. Other "alternative timelines" do it a lot...

    Timo Saloniemi
  13. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Nov 5, 2008
    King Daniel Beyond
    Automation is in general a way to make things easier, and it's a natural advancement of technology. It's no-brainer that Trek would embrace it. The Borg have no trouble assimilating anything, and we've seen small teams (as few as one in a couple of instances) steal or control various incarnations of the Enterprise, the Stargazer, Voyager, the Defiant and the Prometheus. I don't think anything will really be any different when it comes to starship hijacking in Trek.

    As for the USS Vengeance, Daystrom was namedropped early in the movie. Presumably, his multitronic unit works in this reality (likely he imprinted the engrams of, you know, someone sane) and Starfleet's actually on the far more advanced path suggested by various TOS episodes but mostly ignored in the status-quo obsessed 24th century spin-offs.

    It's all in the execution. "Message in a Bottle" did a far poorer job of executing something similar - they made the ridiculous claim that only six people in all of Starfleet knew how to fly the tactical supership USS Prometheus. It made no sense since hundreds or thousands would have been involved in the ship's design process and construction.
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Dunno - hundreds of thousands contributed to building the Moon spacecraft, but only a handful were trained to fly them. Why would some grease monkey from Impulse Engine Development Team have competence in flying the end product?

    Also, the very concept of the Prometheus appeared new, in some pretty ill-defined way. It wouldn't help that millions of people would know how to fly an aeroplane when it came to selecting one who could fly X-1 past the sound barrier.

    Really, the Prometheus looks like a very plausible post-M-5 development: lots of automation, two completely uncrewed starships flying in formation with a crewed one, yet also personnel exclusively trained and dedicated to keeping the contraption under control.

    Timo Saloniemi
  15. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I said out, dammit!
    Are we talking fully automated ship with no crew? What would be the point of that? that's basically a space probe, and a space probe can be built MUCH smaller than any ship.
  16. vulcan redshirt

    vulcan redshirt Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jun 22, 2013
    Or a combat drone.

    Two of the three parts of the Prometheus were effectively drones, and you can even say that the whole thing was (since it was de-crewed) given that the two EMH's were simply computer programs.

    TAS shows automated freighters as nothing out of the ordinary, so it would seem normal that in peacetime, scheduled freight runs may often have been made by unmanned ships. Only unusual runs, or ships that needed to cross customs borders would need to be crewed.
  17. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

    Jul 28, 2008
    Clinton, OH
    Isn't an automated ship a probe? Nomad, Vger, Doomsday Machine? Even the Fesarius was pretty automated. So was the Romulan remote control ship.
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Or then not, depending on the state of the art. Warp propulsion systems may be the size-defining factor, meaning that Friendship 1 without crew might not be any smaller than Friendship 1 with crew...

    Of a crewed one, for that matter. The junior Christopher from "Tomorrow is Yesterday" supposedly commanded a "probe" to Saturn, and it probably wasn't from an Earth-bound console because it was supposed to be the first such probe in the early 21st century, in a universe where crewed interplanetary travel was routine in the 1990s and interstellar uncrewed probes were being sent in 2002.

    We don't know much about the Starfleet terminology regarding automated ships, but we do hear some research ones being called "probes", some transport ones being called "robot ships", and some combat and spying ones being called "drones", without much overlap. FWIW.

    Timo Saloniemi
  19. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Nov 11, 2008
    Warrior, AL
    It al depends on the plot needs. In the final days of the Dominion War the Federation had to deal with orbital weapons platforms- which were very effective automated systems until somebody fooled them into firing at their control hub.
    By logic you could build a good fast ship without a crew- no life support, just enough inertial dampeners to keep the hardware from flying loose, no decking (just some Jefferies tubes... Without a crew component you could build specialized attack vessel faster than a fully crewed ship. Use holographic damage control/repair units which could conform to any size/shape needed and provide their own tools...
    We have seen in Trek before how things can go wrong with the Human element removed, but it all depends on what story you are trying to tell.
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Amusingly, we have about as many stories of machines going haywire as we have stories of benign machinery becoming a terrible threat because the human element is inserted. Madmen, steel-nerved criminals, cornered heroes and good-intentioned innocents all take turns in using machinery and automation for evil.

    In terms of crime/disaster prevention, removing the people would probably help as much as removing the automation. And the former action would still allow the missions to be conducted, while the latter perhaps would not.

    Timo Saloniemi