Giant Robots: Do They Make Any Sense Militarily?

Topic started by Boddington on Aug. 13, 2010. Last post by haseo_yashimora 3 years, 5 months ago.
Post by Boddington (169 posts) See mini bio Level 9

 As it turns out, beam sabers aren't terribly strategic.
 As it turns out, beam sabers aren't terribly strategic.
Mecha: they are the sci-fi must-have items of our fantasies, somewhere between the TARDIS and a lightsaber, but maybe after a DeLorean DMC-12 time machine. The lust finally reached a fever pitch in Japan last year when the 1:1 scale model RX-78 Gundam was raised in Odaiba to huge crowds of fans and otaku couples looking for the perfect place to be married. So, we love them and want them. But really, is an army of robot-equipped soldiers truly feasible? The U.S. armed forces have projects in the works to equip soldiers with battery-powered exoskeletons that will allow them to lift heavy loads over rough terrain, but this isn't really in the same ballpark as five-story-tall land, air and space behemoths. How is such a fantastic force utilized in anime and how much of modern military tactics are employed in their use?
Finally, somebody has come along who can answer this pressing question (via io9), Adam Elkus, a foreign and strategic analyst. Elkus takes a look specifically at the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise for his answers and his conclusions are interesting. One of the things that struck me is how the author points out that despite possessing extremely advanced technology most engagements, naval or suit-to-suit, are handled in very classical ways, usually taking place within line of sight. He also mentions that the engagements in Gundam are a logical extension of Major-General J.F.C. Fuller's then-laughed-at theories in the early 20th century that state a small, fast-moving, efficient squad can decapitate an enemy's leadership, causing panic and collapse along a front. 
It's a little bit of a long read, but well worth the time if you've got a little bit of military otaku in ya.
Post by ramen_reimu (8 posts) See mini bio Level 5

Mech seem really inefficiant, though I think the would be good to cause panic and confusion but bipedal mech are unecessary, mach tank-like mechs would be easily mass produced and the cost of making a gundam like mech seems a little out there, but come on who wouln't like to pilot a mech, if it happens i am not questioning it.
Post by muggy8 (6 posts) See mini bio Level 5
light sabers seem practical but mechas are just stupid in actual warfare because they can be spotted from such a long range it is simple to just snipe them down with something like an RPG or something. even if you have like alot of armor you still wont be able to get to your target in time and thats assuming that your armor is not slowing your down. it is much more practical to use some kind of stealth unit to go and do stuff. if you going to full out war and both sides are ready for combat and stuff like that maybe then giant robots are possible but still if one goes boom then everything around it is as good as gone so i'm still not convinced. maybe drop it from the air where it will be sniped before it lands... idk 
Post by sickVisionz (4,221 posts) See mini bio Level 24
I think a mech that's as mobile as a human is useful.  A Gundam 00 style mech is even more mobile then a person since it can fly.  RPGs and missles aren't all that great when you can run behind a building to take cover or shoot yourself like 300 feet in the air in a split second.  In these shows the mechs have the capacity to fly through a barrage of missiles and lasers and not get hit once.  Even when they do get hit by missiles they can usually shake off the first few and escape if things get too extreme.
Offensively they pack some serious heat with laser cannons that can blow up a building in one shot and computer guided missle systems that can launch like 20 rockets at once.  If one of those entered a war zone they could wipe out an entire army with the only real way to kill them is to secretly put a nuke inside of a tank and detonating it when the mech is near.
Expense vs Effectiveness is probably a major issue at the end of the day I think they become something like a nuclear bomb.  The only way to really stop on is either by having your own, be willing to risks hundred if not thousands of soldiers to take it down, or nuclear warfare.
Post by DocHaus (922 posts) See mini bio Level 18
Do giant robots make any sense militarily? No. It's a hell of a lot more efficient to take the material for one giant mech, turn it into armor for five tanks, and then fill those tanks with crews of experienced soldiers instead of unskilled teenagers on a quest to discover themselves.
Then again, how else can you tell a story involving knights and royalty and set it in a futuristic sci-fi setting where swords have been largely outclassed by better equipment and tactics? The simpler explanation is that simply shooting people or robots with guns doesn't offer nearly as many dramatic moments or chances for witty repartee than when two robots (or the pilots within them) are fighting each other with laser swords and growling in very loud voices. Lifelike battles are a lot more anticlimatic than you think.
The problem with trying to analyze it in a "Serious Business" manner is that you end up missing the point of franchises like Gundam, Code Geass and the like: they are there to sell toys and/or be entertaining. So just sit back, relax, and watch the carnage unfold.
Post by core1065 (13 posts) See mini bio Level 8
The US Army is working on mechs, but there no were as large as Gundams. 
full body exoskeletons.
   New army exoskeleton for the legs and back.
 Future Force warrior exoskeleton

The Army wants every soldier to have a exoskeleton but about 2030, each platoon having one or two mules, one for supply the other for assaults. They also want 1 or 2 heavy machine gunner exoskeletons, which in concept may slightly bigger then the average human, think Robotech cyclone size.  Even though Obama rolled it into another future force project, do to budget cuts but there still working on the program.
the Mules (UGV: unmanned ground vehicles)

Post by XChile (115 posts) See mini bio Level 4
Like any military weapon its " usefulness" isn't determined by think tanks or professors its by the soldiers who use them. On the note that Mechas defy the law Physics....... physics is not written in stone they are subject to change. If it really happens giant mechas thats is  I don't think it'll look like gundam well Im going to go read Land of the Ironclads and marvel at  these amazing war machines :D  Like anything in sci fi you'll just have to wait and see.
Post by mareo2 (8 posts) See mini bio Level 4
Of course they don't! Like flying carriers or giant submarine bases, they just look awesome. The problem with giant robots is the same problem with super-heavy tanks. The soft ground is like deep sand for them. Any engineer that crunch some numbers can see that the surface in contact with the ground is to small for the heavy weight of the vehicle. In essence the foot print is to heavy compared with traditional land vehicles. That is why the US army work on power armors. Even if someone really try to do a giant robot for combat, the current technology don't provide a power engine with enough power/weight ratio for a humanoid vehicle.
Post by muggy8 (6 posts) See mini bio Level 5
i agree with mareo. and besides the most likely of the any sifi stuff that i think is most possible is probably halo, master chef's armor. just the armor not anything else that he has. and as of current teck, that is the only thing possible in terms of mechas but i'm not sure if it counts as mechas
Post by Boddington (169 posts) See mini bio Level 9
The author links to another very enlightening article about the, *ahem*, technical obstacles involved in fielding mecha in the first place. Not surprisingly, the robots we see in many anime break the laws of physics and known engineering possibilities. "Real robots" indeed...
Post by cfatalis (19,150 posts) See mini bio Level 15
1. you will break several law  of physic
2. you probably get more milage building a huge state of the art tank filled with guns
3.Lighttsaber is inherently MORE impratical ( you will still die in one shot to the head) it is close combat weaponry , not much use now , useful in medieval but not now
4.if we break several law of physic, say we invented magic or somekind of new reality breaking technology, a medium sized mech would be the best, not taller than a 3 story house , rather than the giant hulking machine we see in say gundam or EVA(definitely not EVA), see gasaraki and flag for military application
  this video shows a more realistic outlook on the use of mecha
or play cromehounds
Post by crusader8463 (739 posts) See mini bio Level 9
Next you are going to tell me that it's impractical to think that giant 40 foot tall robots can transform into tiny cars/house hold items and back again at will. Well to you good sir's I say bananas . Bananas to you all.
Post by Gasero (167 posts) See mini bio Level 9
 Considering the fact that a lot of the Gundam series is based on interplanetary warfare, I think having giant robots would make a whole lot of sense.
If you are talking about just a normal 1 planet, minimum amount of aerial warfare, then, no, I would not want a giant robot. A midsize robot like what's in Code Geass or something like that would be much more preferable. You also couldn't rely on the physics of what science has discovered  so far. You'd have to make up some extremely powerful energy resource to power those robots and Gundams.
Last point: Who cares!? Gundams and Transformers are cool!
Post by muggy8 (6 posts) See mini bio Level 5
extremely powerful energy source... like nuclear energy? pack a tube of uranium and good for 1 day on that giant robot... when it gets shot down by someone from the enemy ranks, boom and a nuclear explosion? then wipe out all of your troops? what a dumb idea 
Post by cfatalis (19,150 posts) See mini bio Level 15
@Nanashi: you do realize most of the thing realize already has a bomb/volatile material stored somewhere
so as long the "bomb" part is covered to hell and back, well it's okay
Post by core1065 (13 posts) See mini bio Level 8
and don't forget this guy.

Post by core1065 (13 posts) See mini bio Level 8
and the first bi-pedal exoskeleton. like the AT-ST.
Post by Homer39 (4 posts) See mini bio Level 8
A mobile suit might be inefficient on the battlefield but i still want one.
Post by sotyfan16 (1,340 posts) See mini bio Level 20

I would totally have a mech if I could (preferably the Gurren Mark 2, Wing Zero, or Epyon). As for military application I can see mechs being part of the equation sometime in the future. As with everything new it starts big before it becomes smaller and there is still the thought that bigger is better. I mean, wouldn't you shit your pants if you looked down your sniper scope and saw a mech carrying a buster cannon? I say mechs shouldn't be bigger then Gundams as super robots are too big and impractical. I agree with what Gasero said about size. The real problems are maneuverability (ground and air/space), weapons, and power source. Movement is just a matter of beating current physics laws and theories (I don't have much knowledge in the area so that's all I have). The weapons can be manufactured easily enough even today (except for your lightsabers) but the problem with them is dealing with capacity and storage (weapons and ammunition). Eventually we will be able to have nuclear powered cars and watches and by that time those won't be able to cause a nulear explosion like the bombs of today. Code Geass uses energy fillers but never say what actually powers the mechs (actually, I don't know of any mech that states its power source besides Eva (electricity and battery)). Only time will tell if mechs will be more than fiction.

Post by Belonpopo (50 posts) See mini bio Level 9
When we step onto the battlefield with mechas, THEY WILL NOT FUCK WITH US!
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