Each tumble and turn was translated to the altitude indicator in the cockpit of the machine. In turn, this data was sent back to ground control; it had everyone holding their breath as pilot and vehicle plummeted through the sky.
Reboot time was the main problem. At their current design phase, it took seven and a half seconds for the system to begin stabilization. Vital readings from the pilot were still erratic as the servitor spun towards Earth.
Prayers were whispered in an assortment of languages. Fingers were crossed and heads bowed. A collective sigh was released as the onboard computer started to fire thrusters and engines in a set pattern to restore the flight-capable mech to equilibrium. Camera drones captured the moment as its main thrusters roared to life to keep it steady. It took almost half a minute before a groggy voice crept from the speakers.
“How long… how long was I out?”
“Fifty one seconds.”
The pilot’s silence was broken with a sharp breath taken. “Alright. Give me a few and we can test again. Test Unit’s internal fuel level is reading at… sixty two percent. Say if I hold stable until… fifty five, then we’ll go through routine D… Seven, with the flight suit configured to Mode One.”
“External fuel reading is at sixty two as well. We-” The woman at the radio glanced over to the project director at the back of the room. After being given the nod, she continued. “We’re fine for you to wait until fifty five. Stay at your current altitude and enjoy the scenic views.”
“I’ll try my best to. It’s all still spinning a little.” The pilot laughed before going silent.
The project director cleared her throat. “All non-essential staff can take a break. And can someone bring me a coffee?” As some of the team filed out of the control room, she gestured the designer over to her and headed into the small cubicle set aside as her office.
“The test unit isn’t the problem.” The designer sighed, carefully perching himself on a folding chair that looked a little on the cheap side. “We always knew we’d run into this problem eventually. Performance gains are made month after month. Pilot resilience and ability to cope with the forces exerted on them?”
“Much harder to improve.” The director groaned. “Flight suits can only do so much.”
“It’s not like we can modify someone’s physiology to better resist excessive g-force.” He laughed while picking up the model of the latest test unit from her desk. Glancing up from the toy he expected a smile in return, not a serious look of consideration.
“I’ve got a few contacts in the biotech industries. You?” She asked, an eyebrow quirked.
“Some. Colleagues who went to BioGen, a friend or two at Takahashi Medical Technologies. My old lab partner is now working for AltaGene.” He gauged her expression. “You’re not serious, are you?”
The project director waved away the staffer at the door with her coffee. “You said it yourself. We’ll build better and better servitors. The way things are now, no one will be able to make full use of them.” Leaning across her desk, she rapped a finger against the plastic-enshrouded mock-up of an interface port. “We put these in the pilot’s necks so they can control them by thinking. Now everyone needs to have one, just to compete.”
“So… we do what?”
“I’ll talk to our backers. Then we’ll make some calls.”