This text says nothing.

0004 Exposition

Cryptic shadowy voices be cryptic.

Of course, if you read the transcripts, you’ll notice the cryptic shadowy voices have names and, unlike poor Mr. Daniels–our only other named character as of yet, these people will return. When? Next update.

Also, Mecanum wheels. Someone probably noticed (or will notice, the author desperately hopes) those on the truck carrying our MacGuffin. I first encountered them on an artist’s rendering of a future rallycross car. My first thought was, “that’s insane!” I still think it’s a bit on nutty side for that particular application.

Why? Efficiency. The Mecanum wheel is as old as I am. I’m no spring chicken. There are several reasons we don’t see them on cars today. First, is complexity. To get them to do their trick (which, by the way, is allowing the platform they carry to move in any direction) they have to be able to rotate independently. Each wheel needs to be free to move backward or forward and at its own speed, regardless of what the other wheels are doing.

Next, unsprung weight. It’s super efficient to have your motor in your wheel. No transmission and no long shafts to dissipate power. But that makes a really heavy wheel. Even if the total vehicle weight doesn’t change, having the weight under the carriage , instead of suspended by the suspension, does terrible things to handling.

But the real kicker here is that a Mecanum wheel is always trying to roll off to the side. That’s what makes them work. ¬†Each wheel wants to go off at an angle. Driving all of them in the same direction , at the same speed, makes them all pull off to opposite sides in an equal way, so you go forward (or backward). Varying the speed or direction of one or more wheels changes the level of oppositional pull. So it pulls less to one side and goes to the other. This can reach the point that all of the wheels are, more or less, pushing in the same direction, allowing the system to move sideways.
But if some of your force is to the left and some is to the right, you use more power to straight than you would if all of your force was pushing straight ahead. So a rally car with Mecanum wheels gains the ability to drive sideways at the cost of having to have more power to keep up with a regular car going straight.

Which is no issue for a load carrier in tight spaces. Which is exactly what they are doing here. The truck can maneuver an awkward load through corridors that weren’t built with such things in mind.

Also, despite being a 41 year old idea, it looks futuristic as hell.

↓ Transcript
January 5, 2046
Frame 1
CHANDRA VO: (Is this really necessary?)
NURSE 1: Man, these things freak me out.
NURSE 2: Why?
NURSE 1: Can you imagine waking up in one of these?
JAIN VO: (Strictly speaking, no. I find a certain amount of theater prevents the natives growing restless.)
Frame 2
NURSE 2: I don't think that's even possible. Anyway, most of these people didn't expect to wake up at all.
CHANDRA VO: (I didn't mean the theater. And that natives crack is kind of racist.)
NURSE 1: That's what they tell you, man. But I don't buy it. There's something sinister about this whole thing.
Frame 3
NURSE 2: You say that about everything.
NURSE 1: It's true about everything.
JAIN VO: (I'm not racist, doctor. I am incapable of racism. That statement was specist.)
Frame 4
CHANDRA VO: (I beg to differ. You're human. If you're correct, there's very little practical difference between you and me.)
JAIN VO: (Only instantaneous access to the sum of human knowledge and the mental dexterity to make use of it. Details. Obviously of little merit.)

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