Alan Turing was already performing pioneering work in the field of computing at Bletchley Park, using its very early principles in codebreaking efforts to produce Ultra Intelligence. Such efforts would have been to shorten the war effort significantly, but this was not to be. When the first Rift was ripped open by the detonation of an atomic weapon at the Los Alamos site in New Mexico in early 1944, and a second by the subsequent bombing of Dresden mere months later, it was to kickstart an arms race the likes of which had never been seen.

Initially reluctant to share their discovery, the United States were forced to rescind following Hitler’s deployment of the dread Totenkorps in response to the Allies’ Operation Overlord, sharing the existence of unknown messages being received through the seemingly stable Rift at the New Mexico test site (now redesignated Area 51) with the Allies. Both sides were now no longer under the illusion that they possessed something their adversaries did not, and were fully aware that the successful and swift development of this Rift-tech was crucial to survival. The United States thus brought in top British scientists, including Turing, to try and keep ahead of the Axis efforts.

Though the radio signals coming through the Rift were highly corrupted, and nigh-indecipherable, Turing and his team managed to cobble elements of it together with their existing work and developed a rudimentary Artificial Intelligence. This AI was capable of performing basic orders without question, whilst also responding intelligently to stimuli. The combination of this new technology with the ongoing research other teams had made in the development of walkers had immediate military appeal – allowing for mechanical men that were immune to morale, capable in the vast majority of terrains and climates, and most crucially, would prevent flesh and blood men from risking their lives in the thickest of fighting. The Automated Infantry were born.

Automated Infantry Sections

British Automatons advance relentlessly into enemy territory.

Of course, as with all emergent technologies, the hopes to field entirely automated platoons were dashed in the realities of combat. Aside from the obvious production costs, the automated infantry sections lacked speed and manoeuvrability, and were slow to react to the myriad stimuli of the battlefield. It became clear that the human touch remained very much a necessary presence at the front. However, the average Tommy was very happy to see the 10-foot automatons accompany them into battle, bringing significant firepower and extreme resilience to bear at the spearhead of Allied assaults or performing rearguard actions. Giving no ground in the face of genetically-altered monstrosities like the Shreckwulfen and Nachtjäger, the relentless Automated Infantry are a terrifying presence in their own right, looming over most of their adversaries.

The success of the automated infantry in the field has influenced Canadian military doctrine in particular  – ensuring that such sections are integrated into their regular infantry formations. This means that the vast majority of Canadian platoons have access to AI support.

British heavy infantry supported by automatons.

Automated Carriers

With the advantages of the Automated Infantry clear to see upon their initial deployments, no time was wasted in attempting to adapt the new technology for use in vehicles. This initiative was prey to the same pitfalls that beset the infantry  – chiefly that of the sluggishness of response. This is not too severe a deficit, however, and the advantages make up the shortfalls. Based on the ubiquitous Universal Carrier, extraneous elements are removed from the two automated crew, meaning they take up very little space. This allows for heavier weapons to be mounted on its relatively small chassis, whilst the AI crew is entirely immune to the discomfort of a cramped space, plus the increased volume level produced by the larger weapons. Successful field testing has pressed these Automated Carriers into production and active service. Some variants remain in development, as only the 20mm twin autocannon version has seen active service so far.

Automated Mobile Platforms

The successful development of automated carriers, along with the continual improvement of AI technology, led to the concept being developed further. What if a single universal chassis could mount a number of different weapons so they could be changed on the fly as the situation required? Originally conceived as an automated walker, an improved experimental track design led the Automated Mobile Platform (AMP) to be rethought as a tracked platform, allowing for greater stability and a lower profile whilst retaining a comparable level of manoeuvrability to that of a walker. This revised design has the added advantage of being able to mount a gun shield that covers the vast majority of the AI’s vital systems, which, in combination with the platform’s tracks, is very easy to reposition in response to the changing direction of enemy fire.

Three AMP variants have been declared combat-ready. The Hunter mounts an anti-tank gun, the Bombardier a light howitzer and the Lancer mounts an anti-aircraft heavy machine gun.

British Mobile Automated Artillery deployed for action.

Merging Human Intuition with Automated Systems – The Merlin Heavy Walker

British Rift-tech scientists have also developed AI to be used in conjunction with human crews, as well as in autonomous weapons platforms. The initial result of such endeavours is the Merlin heavy walker – combining human intuition and reaction with the very best automated sensors and weapons controls. The sacrifice for this marriage of humanity and artificial intelligence is that the Merlin is forced to carry lighter weapons than other walkers of a similar size, though the M7 3” anti-tank gun liberated from M10 tank destroyers is still highly capable. It also boasts impressive anti-infantry capability with twin .50cal heavy machine guns mounted on its left arm and a hull-mounted automated medium machine gun.

In practice, the Merlin has proved a highly capable walker – versatile and powerful, it pairs its weaponry with the utility arms of other walker designs, equally suited to dishing out damage up close and personal as it is to blockade clearance. The design has swiftly garnered a favourable reputation amongst British & Commonwealth walker crews – with its design sure to influence future iterations of Allied walkers going forward.

Merlin Heavy Walker brandishes its twin .50cal HMGs.

The slowly unravelling mystery of Rift-tech has jolted military technological development into a rate hitherto unseen. With artificial intelligence’s evolving ability to respond with ever-increasing lucidity to the world around it, who knows what the next wave of technological terrors Turing and his team next cook up will be capable of…? For now, the following units are available for Konflikt ’47 battlefields:

  1. I love the automations, but always add a bit of logic, so a belt feed and a ammo pack are a must. This is definetly the defining quality of the British faction (in my mind British = Automaton, US = Flying, Germany = Horror and genetic, Japan = Stealth and zombie, Soviet = Tough), so have high hopes of some unique future additions (please don’t fall into the trap of giving the Germans a bit of everything).

    1. I would like to see an evolution of their AI teach. I find it odd that the Automatons cannot overwatch (they have an IG-88 style head that would be PERFECT to set on overwatch and let the automaton remain stationary, like a sentry gun. Makes sense tech and fluff wise.

      Also, they mention that the Merlin is a marriage of human and ai – but where in the rules does it actually benefit from this “marriage?” I feel like the AI should all some sort of target assist skill that lets a player reroll misses or something like that. Lots of the fluff for the Automatons is lost in the rules unfortunately.

      Also, I feel like an automaton should be able to ignore pins or be immune to fear, something like that.

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