Chapter 109 – Robotics

Luon arrived on time after his little meeting with Belle to see the students checking into the engineering exam. Seeing how everyone else was doing so, Luon lined himself up.

Once he was inside, Luon saw many students gathering around the plaza. Around the plaza was an array of workstations that were neatly organized in a way that looked like an organized open market, only several times larger.

Students came piling in as it slowly reached the aforementioned time, and just when the time for the exam to start, a holographic projection appeared above the students with a man posed in an intimidating fashion as his hand was propped against his mouth, it reminded Luon of some old style animated series he had seen long ago.

“Hello, students. I’ll make this brief as possible, time is precious after all. The examination will last for 2 hours once I declare when it is time to start. The theme for this examination is Artificial Intelligence Programming,” said the examiner.

The moment he said this the ground shook, and a stage appeared next to the plaza they stood at and on top of it were a series of robots modeled after different races and creatures. Luon became surprised as the examination had eliminated the manufacturing and designing aspects of engineering and focused on the software side of things. Luon looked around and found that everyone in the room was actually part of the combat-oriented engineering specialization, so they should know the basics of programming.

“First you must pick a workstation to do your programming in. At each station, there is a panel where you are to provide us with a list of 5 robotic models that you are comfortable with. Once selected you are to select at least one of those 5 models and develop it into a working condition in which you will demonstrate its ability by its actions and commands. Your grade is depicted on how well established your performance is, and if we find your performance to be spectacular, then we’ll allow you to keep the developed robot for your personal usage. I hope that all of you will be able to pass this exam in flying colors,” said the examiner.

Luon looked at the robots and recalled what Isabella, the first person he met when he woke up said about Nexus University and robotic AI. Although robots are thought to be spectacular in many ways their strength was somewhat limited. Most of them, if developed well, average to be around level 60. They were slightly stronger than the average soldier when managed by a regular robotics engineer.

The more advanced ones, on the other hand, were in the level 70 region, and the best ones had even hit level 80. However, there was a downside to robots, the amount of energy used to power them was nearly double if not triple the cost of using an NG-Arms. Them being extremely costly to manage is one of the reasons why they were not often used in wars.

Another reason was the AI behind them, humans were afraid that they would go out control thus limiting the capability of what the robots could accomplish. They were strictly managed by the government, unregistered production was illegal if it were to be redistributed. The government didn’t mind people creating them just for amusement, but if that robot were to commit a crime, the charges would escalate significantly. The only open source AI that the government provided were rather basic, the more complicated ones were sealed away.

Luon looked at the robots on display and pondered about the five he was going to select. According to Isabella, he would do great if he had chosen either a normal human or an elf, which he didn’t mind having since the capability of the robot is about 70% efficient to a high-level combatant. Mentally securing the two he looked at the other models before deciding to go with a dog, a horse and a little dragon mascot which was around the size of the dog. The reason why he chose to go with these choices was that one, they were unpopular because of their impracticality – thus when the exam is over they would probably give one of these to him regardless of the results, and two they had some usage in society.

Since traffic was regulated, private vehicles were found unnecessary unless they were traveling on different planets which is why he didn’t pick a robotic car. He also didn’t choose the dragon since many people were aiming towards it. The dog and dragon mascot were excellent companions, and the horse was a good mount. That’s if he couldn’t get the human or elf which he preferred to receive.

Just as he finished his selection, the examiner said, “Feel free to use the resources provided on your BMPU. For this examination, we have unlocked a slightly more complicated AI source code in which you can use as a reference, but be careful with your time. If you need anything else, please feel free to ask.”

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The examiner sent his gaze about as he finished it off by saying, “I look forward to your performances in after the two hours, now then let’s begin the examination!”

Right away the crowd of people rushed towards the closest workstation to them. Luon merely walked as he mentally wrote down the steps he would take to accomplish this task. Because of his pace, it took him nearly a minute before he was able to select a workstation.

After inputting his selection, the panel prompted him to select which robots he wanted to develop for this exam. Luon thought long and hard, he wanted to make something complex and at the same time achievable. Without a doubt, the BMPU would be helpful for the examination, it was able to download code online and install it into the processor installed in the robot. There was a downside to open source code, and that was using the multiple unconventional, and sort of generic code to make his robots do specific actions. The larger the library, the more things he can accomplish, but at the same time there were more unknown factors hidden underneath. There was no time program a fresh robotic AI from scratch, the best thing he could do is work off of a template.

After thinking about it carefully, Luon decided on a performance that would show his understanding of a complicated AI system. It had to be flexible, take commands, and execute them without any margin of error. Those are the necessary steps that all of the engineers are going to do. However, to secure the robots that they were giving away, he needed a spectacular performance. He pressed a few times on the panel, and it closed on him asking him to prepare his station.

As Luon prepared his tools, he noticed multiple trucks arrive at the workstations nearby and slowly robots appeared from inside of them. The engineers got to work right away and hooked those robots up to their station to install the programming.

Sure enough, a truck stopped in front of Luon’s station, and the doors opened. The time to do all of this took 5 minutes out of the 2 hours he was given. Stressed on time he got to work right away, whether or not it will work, he can only try and best to see it done.

“1 minute left!” The examiner bellowed as many engineers worked their butts off to finish their product.

To Luon who managed to finish on time, the scene before him was like chaos. Tears were streaming from the eyes of multiple students faces, anger as they savagely smashed the keyboard that they were provided as they replaced variable names with curse words, and grief as after all of their hard work in coding it failed to bear fruit at the testing stages as an unknown error would occur.

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The scene reminded Luon about how cooking competitions were operated as the fast hands of these engineers worked away like magic.

“And stop! Raise your hands!” The examiner said as all of the students raised their hands to indicate that they were done. No one was willing to continue working since it was an instant disqualification if they do. They would at least receive part marks for trying, and that is many times better than receiving a zero.

The examiner began to judge students by their last names, as the first student came up disbelief was displayed in all of the student’s faces. The first person to go wasn’t even able to get his robot to move. It seems that when he was fixing the source code during the testing stages, he was frantically reintegrating some of the libraries causing it to have an error on startup, just before the examiner called the exam was over.

Luon couldn’t help but sweat bullets. To accomplish what he did for his program he skipped the entire testing stages as he assumed that his code would work perfectly fine.

The first student’s performance evaluation was a big fat zero, and as for passing the grade, the examiner declared that it would be taken into consideration once they evaluate the code that the robot has been installed with.

After the first student was 2 entirely different spectrums of results, there were those who passed by merely adhering to the basics while choosing simple robots like dogs, cats, and other animals. The other side was those who went for the more complicated systems like humans, orcs, and dragons where they failed spectacularly.

Having the last name of Fate, Luon’s turn arrived in no time. Seeing the failure of multiple students, he couldn’t help but feel slightly frightened. No matter how much knowledge one piles up when being evaluated things tend to differ from person to person. Usually, Luon would exude confidence but his last-minute programming without having tested the result frightened him.

The examiner appeared surprised as he said, “Hm? Luon Fate you chose two robots? An elf and a human? I believe each workstation only has enough ports to program one robot at a time, I don’t see how you can achieve these results.”

“Yes, that’s right. My workstation was no different than the other workstations,” Luon nodded with confidence. The aura he exuded was brimming in vigor in an attempt to hide his anxiety. He took the challenge of developing two robots at the same time, and not only that, but they were different from one another. Beside Luon was a female human robot and a female elven robot. The human-robot was about a head taller than the other, and a seductive figure and the elven robot had a relatively slim figure. The two were dressed in a maid uniform which Luon had requested from the supervisors to obtain from the nearby cafe he had visited.

When they heard the request they instantly sent the uniforms over, sometimes the management had to use robots with a similar figure to replace absent staff, so it was easy to accommodate.

The other students and the examiner looked at Luon as if he were a pervert. The examiner frowned at how shallow he was. He recalled that Luon was one of the combatants for the Alliance Tournament but couldn’t help but give a cough before saying, “Then, Luon, please show us your performance.”

Luon nodded and began to command the robots to do several actions. They expertly served tea, cleaned, and danced which surprised the examiner at how well done it was for the time he was assigned.

“How did you manage to program two at the same like this? For their efficiency its quite hard to believe that you would be able to accomplish this,” said the examiner in disbelief.

Luon nodded as he said, “At first I developed the basic structure for one of them off of a template, this process took nearly half an hour to accomplish, and all it could do was walk, stand, jump, and other basic actions.”

The examiner nodded in understanding, but Luon’s next words shocked him greatly.

“After, doing this I had connected that robot to share its code with the other one while I worked on the workstation to do more advanced programming, once it was done I would reconnect the line with the first robot and have it synchronize with the new data,” Luon said.

Rather than waiting for the installation for two separate machines, Luon had the robot program the other one while he continued to work, thus having the effect of two robots.

The examiner seemed to understand this theory but still appeared confused as he asks, “I understand how you were able to get two robots, but how did you manage to get such realistic movements?”

Luon nodded as he said, “One of the libraries connected their internal system with our Network that we used for the Vortex Container, like a simple search engine they looked at previous records and triangulate the positioning for their actions using their sensors as a base. This installment happens when the first robot is getting a code upgrade, after that the two robots share the code and information with one another.”

“Then are you saying that it can obtain a new action right now?” the examiner asked curiously Luon nodded as the examiner asked the robots to do something different.

Luon told the robots to do a pop idol dance, and the two started dancing and singing to the tune that Janet’s idol group does. Luon felt embarrassed as he earned the praises from the audience based on the performance as the holler and whistle at the stage.

Once the performance was over the examiner nodded and said, “Luon you passed the examination. As for the results, please wait until all the tests are over.”

“Yes!” Luon became excited, he had passed the first examination. Although the aftermath was as he expected it to be as for his peers, they now look at him with either pity, disgust, or pride. To make two “girls” dance and sing, some found Luon’s taste in music and costume brilliant.

With his first examination over, his next one is at the commander training venue where he was prompted to log into a Vortex Container, he was excited to see what the next examiner had in store next.

- my thoughts:
Next week is exam week, the chapters will be delayed until the next weekend until then or made up during Christmas Holidays. Thanks for reading.
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