Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

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seven324
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Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#1 » Dec 10 2017 02:41

Something i've thought about recently is that there is not a single instance of wheels being used by the Tau that i can think of. However, during an Imperial invasion of one Tau world, they make use of roads that are specifically said to be well-built.

Obviously anti-grav vehicles would benefit from roads as well in terms of knowing where to go, but it overall seems a bit wasted if there aren't ground vehicles to make use of the fact that they are well-built. We've only seen a very small amount of Tau vehicles (3, really - Hammerhead/Devilfish, the Tetra and Pirhana) but Anti-grav vehicles seem to perform just as well regardless of the quality of the terrain under them.

Having everything be anti-grav seems like it would be a bit impractical. Is there anything to suggest they might make use of wheels anywhere at all?

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Elphiel
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#2 » Dec 10 2017 03:31

I think roads for Tau anti-grav fulfil the same role like roads do for wheeled vehicles. I would think in a hightech environments these roads improve active or passive the performance of low ground anti-grav drives. It is like off-road wheeled vehicles can drive in rough terrain without many problems but still perform even better on roads. Less fuel need, higher speeds and better controllability. And because anti-grav is not the same like real flying even if it can be capable of it i think Tau roads will improve the anti-grav performance enough to be a viable thing in a developed environment.

So i don't think there is much need for wheels in such a hightech envirment. It the same with the eldar. They also don't use any kind of wheels.

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AnonAmbientLight
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#3 » Dec 10 2017 05:14

I think it all depends. There would probably be different levels of anti-grav technology. The anti-grav system for a Hammerhead might be different from, say, a moving truck or mail truck. Wouldn't be as powerful and would likely be forced to stay close to the ground. That would necessitate roadways. One thing to keep in mind too is that paving over everything is probably a good idea depending on the planet.

I would say that at this point T'au probably do not make use of the wheel in an real capacity. Their anti-grav tech is complex enough to make relatively small drones fly and even hover boards that the ethereal rides. It stands to reason that even day to day items use anti-grav tech.
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Kakapo42
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#4 » Dec 10 2017 07:10

It's likely that the Tau made use of wheels and tracks in the past, but by the present time they have long switched over entirely to anti-grav related methods of propulsion. This isn't really that much of a stretch - the only real reasons why we haven't done the same are A) we haven't invented anti-gravity technology yet, B) current methods of producing hovering vehicles are too fuel-intensive to be practical on a large scale and C) regulation to make sure up to 7 billion flying cars don't crash into each other would be a nightmare.

The Tau however have all those problems sorted. Not only do they have anti-gravity technology (and indeed, their mastery of it is second only to the Eldar), their culture and society naturally lends itself to tight regulation and careful control and their energy production technology is vastly more advanced than our own in real-life - remember, not only have the Tau perfected nuclear fusion reactors, they've managed to miniaturise the technology to the point where it can fit inside a backpack and still be useful. Likewise, Imperial Armour Volume III: The Taros Campaign states that Tau advances in fuel efficient turbine engines are light-years ahead of the Imperium, which in turn is light-years ahead of human technology in real life (in most circumstances at least...). Given these factors, it would make sense for the Tau to fully adopt hovering vehicles wherever possible.

It should also be noted that it's not just Tau vehicles that need to be considered. The Tau share their empire with a wide variety of alien civilisations each with their own technological base. Many Gue'vessa communities at least are known to operate tracked or wheeled vehicle designs, and its likely other civilisations do as well. So even if the Tau themselves gain little use from paved roads, their auxiliary allies could get much more mileage out of them, making a good road network a useful feature for a Tau world (especially a major trade and commerce hub like Dal'yth Prime, the Tau world in question in the aforementioned background piece).

Finally, there has never been any in-depth description of Tau roads beyond them being well-built, and so really Tau roads could be just about anything. Even now there are plans in real-life for roads that are more than just paved surfaces (one idea I saw a while ago was to construct roads out of reinforced solar panels to provide energy for cities and towns, for example). Given how technologically advanced the Tau are, their roads may incorporate secondary features to assist anti-grav vehicles, such as wireless energy transmission to supplement onboard power plants, maglev conveyors that Tau vehicles can link with (using standardised receiver components built into their chassis) to travel at speed without using their main engines or something even more exotic.
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hownowbrowntau
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#5 » Dec 11 2017 08:21

The only Tau ground vehicles we see are Fire caste. Between auxiliaries and Earth caste vehicles, there may still be need for roads. Also, roads are still useful for XV-8s and other suits, as well as infantry on foot. Plus, it seems that a lot of movement in a Tau city would be on foot.

Looking at places like Hong Kong and Tokyo as analogies, most people spend some of their day walking short distances from mass transit systems.

Having mainly anti - grav vehicles means roads open up for pedestrian transport again.

This has all sorts of implications for building terrain for Tau - themed boards.
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seven324
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#6 » Dec 11 2017 02:17

AnonAmbientLight wrote:I think it all depends. There would probably be different levels of anti-grav technology. The anti-grav system for a Hammerhead might be different from, say, a moving truck or mail truck. Wouldn't be as powerful and would likely be forced to stay close to the ground. That would necessitate roadways. One thing to keep in mind too is that paving over everything is probably a good idea depending on the planet.

I would say that at this point T'au probably do not make use of the wheel in an real capacity. Their anti-grav tech is complex enough to make relatively small drones fly and even hover boards that the ethereal rides. It stands to reason that even day to day items use anti-grav tech.


The Tau are overall quite practical, though. They aren't really the sort to shun using something because it's seen as 'beneath' them, if there's a practical reason to make use of something, then they will. They even use trains, albeit mag-lev versions.

While they do use anti-grav tech, as someone else here said, so far we've only seen a very, very small amount of Fire-caste vehicles and technology. I don't think we haven't seen anything from a bit of a less militarized approach from them. Drones obviously have significant advantages to being anti-grav, and we've seen 3 Fire Caste vehicles which again in a battlefield scenario would have obvious advantages due to the "all-terain" nature of anti-grav. There isn't anything we've really seen where it would be designed without that context, all the technology we've seen from them that makes use of Anti-grav is specialized equipment designed to be used within a certain environment where the ability to hover is a huge advantage. That doesn't quite apply to something like moving stuff or citizens from one city to another, where the needs are entirely different.

To some extent their large Battlesuits complicate the whole anti-grav thing. The Riptide is understandable as it is essentially a bigger Crisis suit in terms of role, but things like the Stormsurge seem to be something that would be far more suitable on a vehicle chasis rather than a giant Battlesuit.

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Kael'yn
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#7 » Dec 11 2017 04:44

Tau using wheels ? I think yes.
TL;DR: Tau Earth Caste maybe have some kind of "KISS" (Keep It Simple, Stupid) engeener motto that push them to not use antigrav for every trinket they design.

- Antigrav engines need to be probably beefier the heavier the vehicle is.
Same law than wing area/mass problem: if you doubles up the size of a vehicle, its antigrav area is 2^2=4 times bigger, but the mass (assuming same density) is 2^3=8 times greater, so the antigrav plates need to push 8/4=2 times more the vehicle, and probably uses 2 times the energy needed (with a powerplant probably at least 2 times bigger).
All of this has practical limits, only known by Tau.
So large ground vehicles that don't need speed or climbing abilities probably uses wheel.
- Also, simplier vehicles probably don't use antigrav (wheelbarrow may exists without a small antigrav engine).


About roads: using roads for antigrav allow them to be constantly at the same altitude vs ground and avoid tweaking the power/output of antigrav engines to compensate the rough terrain, giving probably the antigrav energy savings and/or better speed.

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AnonAmbientLight
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#8 » Dec 11 2017 09:49

seven324 wrote:
AnonAmbientLight wrote:I think it all depends. There would probably be different levels of anti-grav technology. The anti-grav system for a Hammerhead might be different from, say, a moving truck or mail truck. Wouldn't be as powerful and would likely be forced to stay close to the ground. That would necessitate roadways. One thing to keep in mind too is that paving over everything is probably a good idea depending on the planet.

I would say that at this point T'au probably do not make use of the wheel in an real capacity. Their anti-grav tech is complex enough to make relatively small drones fly and even hover boards that the ethereal rides. It stands to reason that even day to day items use anti-grav tech.


The Tau are overall quite practical, though. They aren't really the sort to shun using something because it's seen as 'beneath' them, if there's a practical reason to make use of something, then they will. They even use trains, albeit mag-lev versions.

While they do use anti-grav tech, as someone else here said, so far we've only seen a very, very small amount of Fire-caste vehicles and technology. I don't think we haven't seen anything from a bit of a less militarized approach from them. Drones obviously have significant advantages to being anti-grav, and we've seen 3 Fire Caste vehicles which again in a battlefield scenario would have obvious advantages due to the "all-terain" nature of anti-grav. There isn't anything we've really seen where it would be designed without that context, all the technology we've seen from them that makes use of Anti-grav is specialized equipment designed to be used within a certain environment where the ability to hover is a huge advantage. That doesn't quite apply to something like moving stuff or citizens from one city to another, where the needs are entirely different.

To some extent their large Battlesuits complicate the whole anti-grav thing. The Riptide is understandable as it is essentially a bigger Crisis suit in terms of role, but things like the Stormsurge seem to be something that would be far more suitable on a vehicle chasis rather than a giant Battlesuit.


Not so much that it is beneath them. Anti-grav tech is superior in every way to the wheel and all its forms. We have also seen them be able to engineer large vehicles to use anti-grav, and "smaller" drones. So this means the technology is adaptable and doesn't need a large power source.

Anti-grav also means that it is universal. No matter what planet you find yourself on, your anti-grav technology will work for you and often do better than the wheel. Things like being all terrain, being able to scale heights, fly (to an extent), etc etc.

Anti-grav tech would be the go to standard that they would stick to. The wheel, if it were to be used at all, would likely be on a case by case basis depending on the need of the world they find themselves on.

Someone mentioned up thread that they would "KISS" (Keep it simple, stupid) and I get that. But when you can mass produce anti-grav tech and make it work on pretty much any tool or vehicle, I see no reason why they wouldn't use it in nearly all aspects of life.

Having anti-grav technology is literally reinventing the wheel at this point.
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Arka0415
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#9 » Dec 11 2017 10:48

AnonAmbientLight wrote:Not so much that it is beneath them. Anti-grav tech is superior in every way to the wheel and all its forms.

...

Someone mentioned up thread that they would "KISS" (Keep it simple, stupid) and I get that. But when you can mass produce anti-grav tech and make it work on pretty much any tool or vehicle, I see no reason why they wouldn't use it in nearly all aspects of life.

Having anti-grav technology is literally reinventing the wheel at this point.

I mean, in all seriousness though, do you think the Tau use anti-grav wheelbarrows? Anti-grav rolling pins? There are plenty of places where the Tau could use wheels :D

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AnonAmbientLight
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#10 » Dec 12 2017 06:25

Anti-grav wheelbarrows, sure. Not rolling pins, though as its...it's just a rolling pin.

The point is that using anti-grav technology as a default makes sense when you are a space faring people. It completely negates the differences between different levels of gravity on planets and terrain difficulties. It would be the absolute height of T'au efficiency. Anything they make would be usable on any planet.

Come across a snow planet? No worries. You use anti-grav technology so you don't have to worry about getting special kinds of tires or treads.

Come across a desert planet? No worries. You use anti-grav technology so you don't have to worry about the difficulties of driving on sand or getting stuck in sand itself.

Come across a jungle planet? No worries. You use anti-grav technology so you don't have to worry about getting stuck in tangled jungle masses or having to cut down trees to get places.

Come across a water planet? No worries. You use anti-grav technology so you don't have to worry about swapping to a boat whenever you reach a large body of water (assuming that anti-grav works over water which I assume it does).

You get the idea.
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Lord Mayhem
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#11 » Dec 13 2017 04:19

I would expect Tau to use wheels when they make more sense, just as we do now.
While we see extensive use of gravity manipulation tech, we see it in context of the military, where the cost/benefit ratio may well be skewed; the advantages of using it for combat operations outweigh the cost of construction and operation.
We have no real idea how expensive anti grav is to build, how much maintenance it takes, and what the fuel requirements are. We can make certain assumptions, based on the existence of drones, that a drone sized unit is comparable to the training and equipping costs of a firewarrior, since if it was much more expensive we wouldn't see so many of them, and if much cheaper, we wouldn't see so many firewarriors. Thus, assuming cost equivalencies to modern troops, a drone costs the equivalent of a high end car.

Wheels do in fact have some significant advantages; simple (cheap) to build, low maintenance, and importantly, negligible energy requirements for operation. Quite simply, wheels are a lot more cost effective than A/G (Just because you have the technology, doesn't make it cheap). Any A/G unit has to constantly spend the energy to lift the item against gravity, and is mechanically more complex, so would require more maintenance than a wheel built with the same materials technology.

For tasks not requiring the mobility advantages of A/G, wheels and a road network would be more practical; as a real world comparison; cross country freight distribution in the US; trucks move far more freight than aircraft, even through aircraft are faster. The wheeled vehicles are cheaper to operate, build and maintain, so the economy of scale overwhelms the speed advantage of the aircraft. In the USMC we have a large helicopter capability, serving much the same role as A/G units, but for logistics we use more wheeled vehicles; again cheaper, easier to maintain and use less fuel for the same job.

Reliability is also a consideration; without power A/G becomes a rock in the air, a wheeled vehicle can still be moved, by hand if needed! (Helicopters (A/G units) can and do fall out of the sky, which tends to end badly. Wheeled vehicles, generally not so much.

So, yes I think the Tau use wheels, just maybe not the Fire Caste

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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#12 » Dec 13 2017 05:29

I love the analysis of the relative costs of firewarriors vs drones...very clever and quite insightful. Given the Tau are also casualty -averse, that makes for a great analogy!

A lot depends too on the relative difficulty of building A/G and the reliability/output of power systems. Looking at electronics for a moment as an example, so many items became more reliable as more components became solid - state instead of a jumble of wires and valves. I suspect the Tau are at the point of solid state, mass produced A/G.

Does their A/G continue to work after the power is off, waning off gradually like an old electric heater slowly cools, or stop immediately like a car engine with no fuel?

Power is a whole different issue. The Fire caste bring their own power sources with them but I wouldn't be surprised if the Earth caste are doing things like broadcasted power. How cheap is the energy needed to "float your boat"?

If we're looking at a mature technology and cheap, easy power, then A/G is probably your first port of call. If it's expensive to run and/ or needs a lot of attention, then wheels will win out most of the time.

Another factor is the relative age of the Sept. T'au and the other 1st expansion septs would be far more established than the latest, newest colony worlds. Logistics problems may mean we see more wheeled vehicles on the outer worlds, especially those that had an Imperial presence.

As an aside, I've often wondered about non - military uses of XV-8s. The name "Crisis suit" to me implies uses such as firefighting, search and rescue, natural disaster management etc. I can see crisis suits dropping into wildfires, or carrying people to safety in a flood.
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Kakapo42
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Re: Do the Tau make use of wheels anywhere?

Post#13 » Dec 13 2017 07:48

As I mentioned earlier, the Tau mass produce backpack sized fusion reactors as part of their standard infantry kit, so I seriously doubt energy production is going to be an issue for them.

One interesting thing to consider with logistics and favouring universal use of anti-grav locomotion is commonality. If all Tau vehicles are anti-grav, then the logistics behind them can be standardised much more easily - the Tau could, for example, produce just a few universal anti-grav systems of varying size class that can be used in a wide range of vehicles interchangeably.

Not only would this simplify supply immensely (instead of having to ship over parts for all manner of different kinds of wheeled, tracked and hover vehicles to a colony the Tau would only need to send, say, 3 or 4 different sizes of anti-grav system), it would also be more conducive to improvised field maintenance - if a colony's fleet of anti-grav vehicle X is inoperable, they can get them up and running again by cannibalising parts from anti-grav vehicle Y that uses the same anti-grav system (or even taking components from other anti-grav drives if they share common parts).

It also wouldn't be the first time that the Tau have employed such standardisation - other examples include the ubiquitous use of Fio'tak in construction, universal power cells for pulse weapons and the modular design of Kor'vattra series starships.

hownowbrowntau wrote:Another factor is the relative age of the Sept. T'au and the other 1st expansion septs would be far more established than the latest, newest colony worlds. Logistics problems may mean we see more wheeled vehicles on the outer worlds, especially those that had an Imperial presence.


On the other hand, newer colonies and fringe worlds would benefit more from anti-grav vehicles, since they're almost totally unaffected by adverse terrain and can operate completely independently of developed infrastructure (all they really need is a relatively open space to land and take off in, a storage space and a supply of fuel and spare parts). As I understand it the Soviet Union in real life made extensive use of helicopters in the more remote areas of its territory for those very reasons.
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