Omnicraft
Small, mobile habitat/transport craft designed to operate and provide accommodations in a wide range of environments from planetary surfaces to interplanetary space.

Omnicraft
Image from Steve Bowers

Omnicraft are constructed of a combination of nanotechnic materials and smart matter that permits them to rapidly reconfigure themselves in a variety of ways. This includes the expansion of sections of the craft to provide (often expansive) living accommodations at a given destination, contraction and folding of sections to allow the craft to more easily travel when desired, and the reconfiguration of the crafts structure and motive systems to most effectively operate in a given environment.

Within a planetary or habitat environment, an omnicraft may deploy all-terrain wheels, multiple flexible legs, or a layer of high-strength utility fog 'omnitread' to travel across various surfaces and terrains. It may inflate buoyant support structures and extrude propellers, fins, or sails to provide transportation along, or even beneath, a liquid surface. Beneath the surface of a sea or ocean it may use supercavitation technology to reduce drag and allow increased speed. Or it may deploy hot air or vacuum based lifting bodies, expandable propellers, fancloth, or small jets to travel through the atmosphere above the planetary or habitat surface.

Most omnicraft use a combination of fuel cells, solar energy, and nanoflywheel power storage for day-to-day operations, and limit themselves to 'shirtsleeve' planetary or habitat environments. However, more advanced systems (often based on templates first developed by hobbyists or tinkerers and then later filtered onto the commercial markets and public Known Net nodes) may include configurations and materials able to operate in a wide variety of challenging conditions including vacuum, within a Jovian or To'ul'h type atmosphere, or even within the high-pressure depths of a Europan-class marine environment. Such advanced systems often include a low-power fusion or fission reactor system to permit operations away from solar power sources and may even deploy fusion powered thruster systems capable of interplanetary travel. On rare occasions hobbyists or more determined amateur explorers have fitted out their craft with nanostasis and high end recycling systems and ventured into local Oort and Kuiper clouds, sometimes taking months or years between stops on quixotic quests of exploration or deep-space solitude.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner

Initially published on 23 October 2006.