Space Engineers

Space Engineers

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Nautili - The Walking Drill - Vanilla Scriptless tunnel bore
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Mar 20, 2022 @ 7:38pm
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Nautili - The Walking Drill - Vanilla Scriptless tunnel bore

The Nautili is 100% vanilla and scriptless and can set itself up and run largely unattended. Featuring 13 small grid drills on a rotating head and four retractable limbs it is built for one job, digging holes, or tunnels, so two jobs, I guess... It utilizes a walking motion with its 4 limbs to move up and down the tunnel regardless of gravity and with minimal power usage. Ideal usages for this machine are retrieving deep ores via deep ores mod, or for creating long tunnels for bases or transport routes.

Because of the limits of timer blocks and the nature of the movement unfortunately the only terrain the automatic deploy supports is a flat level surface, this can be natural flat voxel surface such as ice lake or dessert flats or a pre leveled surface. However manual alignment can be done to start a tunnel at any angle(tested for 1.09g, higher is fine, but you may need to adjust torque values see below). The Nautili doesn't contain much onboard storage, however features a convenient rear facing connector for your to dock a ship or storage/refinery module as once deployed the Nautili can support significant weight with torque adjustment).

Nautili's have effectively infinite depth capability and require no additional considerations when loading/unloading the world (at least for single player). Well they are not equipped with a reactor by default their four batteries can keep the drill running for well over a week before needing to be recharged by a docking transport vessel or other means.


When the drill is in transport mode (this is the default mode for the blueprint) you can just set it on any flat ground and lock the arm and drill landing gears (1 on hotbar) once its perfectly still and level and then start the "bore mode (start)" timeing block (2 on hotbar) the Nautili will take over from there and will automatically continue its progress until it runs out of power or is shut down manually.

Starting on a defined angle is a bit more involved, as you will have to manually adjust each hinge and piston to match the terrain, can't really easily walk you through this as its dependent on the terrain. Once its in position you can start the automatic bore process by triggering timing block "tunnel adv 14 (End Plunge)" if your starting position was good it should be able to handle everything after that point automatically. For this to work the FIRST drill extension started by the timer block must create a reasonably deep bore hole with walls so that the arm movements afterwards have something to lock onto.

If you wish to safely shut down the timerblocks stop "tunnel adv 15 (start retract)" (hotbar 6), likewise to restart it from this position just start that time block back up(hotbar 7 or 8 depending on if it still needs to drill down or if its already at the end of travel). From their you can manually retract the drill head and lock the drill rotor and extract the Nautili from the bore hole via another method (currently the Nautili is incapable of moving itself back up the hole but in theory it is possible).

If you have a particularly large payload attached like a big transport vessel or a refinery module you may need to increase torque to complete the plunge motion. Hinges can freely be adjusted(minimum 450kNm) and yes its designed to use 0 braking torque on the hinges. The pistons require a bit more effort as they have the tendency to over extend and cause clang so they are set default with very little torque and in timer blocks are set higher torque only when needed. "Tunnel Adv 13 (Start Plunge)" must be edited adding actions for group *arm pistons* to increase "max impulse axis" and "max impulse nonaxis" and "Tunnel Adv 14 (End Plunge)" must be edited adding actions for group *arm pistons* to decrease "max impulse axis" and "max impulse nonaxis".

By default the Nautili has a drill speed of 0.008m/s however in testing its capable of higher speeds of 0.016m/s or possibly more after the initial bore is made and the Nautili is fully seated in the tunnel. Adjusting this is simply adjusting the "piston drill" velocity. However you will also need to adjust the delay on "tunnel adv 15(start retract)" to match the time it now takes to clear the section (roughly 21 min for default, and 11 min for 0.016m/s). Faster speed does a lot of jiggling and has a higher probability to get jammed or createing death voxels. I've done some limited testing on faster speeds but my verdict was it just wasn't worth the risk.


Q: Why does the drill head hit a hinge at the start of every cycle?
A: Because of other considerations made to avoid clang explosions one hinge is considerably lower than the others and the drill gets stuck on it for a moment until the drill extension piston push's the drill head past it, this causes no damage or any ill affects and fixing it would be a huge pain so its not a bug its a feature.

Q: Why small grid drills?
A: Because I needed to have a small sub grid attached to the Nautili to house the timer blocks in a space efficient manner. Also small grid drills are considerably more stable and consistent then large grid if a bit slower, plus they look better.

Q: Ya but doesn't it just clang out?
A: Actually no, the Nautili is very stable in its intended use and extensively tested. The Nautili also features multiple aspects in the timerblocks that exist solely to mitigate phantom forces before they become problematic. The original prototype was left running for multiple days and achieved a depth of over 1200m without any intervention on my part and was perfectly fit to keep going.

If you find any bugs please report them here or via keens discord (you can find me there under the same username) and I'll do my best to fix them.
terran space police Jan 1, 2023 @ 10:16am 
this is legit!
Vendeta44  [author] Dec 26, 2022 @ 11:27pm 
@kinngrimm Ya feel free to re-post if you manage to scale it as long as you credit my original design. Good luck if you do try it would be interesting to see how well it scales up.
kinngrimm Dec 25, 2022 @ 1:02pm 
should i come to it, i would try out how far that could go with your concept and post a version here on steam then if that is ok with you, ofcause with credits to you or otherwise send it to you if you wish so, so you could make it available.Just no promises to when or even if as i am currently not even playing SE, but might get back into to it as i am in the process of developing an itch for it hrhr missing the game.
Vendeta44  [author] Dec 24, 2022 @ 6:42am 
@kinngrimm No idea. Presumably you could double it by adding the drills and extra sets of pistons. Youd have to modify all the timer blocks routines for the legs to include the new pistons (and the replacement hinges/mag plates). As well doubling torque values and halving all hinge values.

Might start running into weight issues or clang issues tho not really sure tbh.
kinngrimm Dec 21, 2022 @ 9:39am 
What do you think would be the max drills/block radius you could put into such if one would expand on this idear, having more pistons behind each other therefor resulting into a larger whole?
987654321989rblx Aug 30, 2022 @ 3:16am 
For me the second i press any buttons on it, it just explodes launching parts everywhere and ruining terrain
satyr451 Apr 29, 2022 @ 7:51am 
Nice work. That's truly impressive.
Vendeta44  [author] Apr 28, 2022 @ 9:17pm 
@siloking the drills collide for a bit yeah, unfortunately there's no good fix for it without causing other issues. But its not really a problem as eventually they extend past the hinges and continue on without issue though.
Siloking Apr 28, 2022 @ 9:57am 
I might be a dumbass, but whenever I start it up, the two drills on the ends collide with the pistons.
YAKFLY Apr 26, 2022 @ 11:32pm 
That's very cool. Please make a video or a description on the logic behind, how do you setup the timers, what are intended legs movments.