In this futuristic setting an AI being has built an interstellar spaceship solely for itself, no humans or other life forms will be needed to maintain it or be passengers.

Because of the AI being, the ship will have some elements of design similar to a human ship, for story driven purposes but those will not actually be necessary for the ship to run.

As everything is run by the ships computer a more powerful extension of the AI being, all flight controls and ships maintenance will be controlled by the computer, using task specific worker bots to carry out physical jobs when needed.

The ship uses light sails powered by a laser or laser relays, it will have a space dedicated for storing large amounts of digital data, an area for material storage and manufacturing, this will be mostly 3d printing, and a laboratory for examining samples.

The computer will communicate to worker bots via wireless connection, the bots themselves will navigate using sensors to measure their surroundings.

My question is what standard design features of a human spaceships interior would still be necessary?

I see no need for lights, visual displays or interfaces, unless there would still be a reason for these and other features?

  • $\begingroup$ This might highly depend on what the purpose or goal is of this ship. If its purpose is transport, it will look very different from when its purpose is purely data gathering or combat. $\endgroup$
    – Plutian
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Its mostly data gathering, with some defence weapons for the ships exterior. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 20:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You do realize that AI is simply a computer program? A computer program does not need a spaceship any more than it needs food or clothes. It is just a code algorithm. $\endgroup$
    – Galaxy
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Galaxy I did say it was created by an AI being, in other words an android, if the android wants to explore space it needs a ship, and before you say an android cant be conscious, I know, its the more fiction part of the story. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 11:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is this AI friendly with humans at all? If people asked the AI to build this ship, they might have asked it to have some spots that people can navigate just for the purpose of inspection or maintenance. $\endgroup$
    – Muuski
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 19:55

3 Answers 3


Even if purely robotic, space is extremely cold. A base temperature, even if much colder than needed by humans, is still required to prevent the systems from freezing.

Small tunnels
Maintenance is always needed. You state there are maintenance robots, they will need to get around somehow. Tunnels and open spaces will be needed. Obviously, they can be much smaller than human size.

It will be much condensed, as air and most life support systems aren't needed. Windows will be nonexistent, as are doors. Data ports will be increased, though armored.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The computers themselves will generate heat. Getting rid of heat is a problem with hearthside computers. Heat might not be an issue. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 21:36
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Space is cold, but there is no air to conduct heat away. The computers and engines will generate plenty of heat, you will need large radiators to make sure your ship doesn't melt from its own waste heat. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 0:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Willk Thanks, now I have an image of a computer warming itsekf before a fireplace. $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 1:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Similarly, there are benefits to having air in the maintenance ducts to aid in cooling the repair robots and reducing mechanical problems like vacuum welding. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 9:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @talex This depends on whether the insides of your spaceship work in a vacuum, which is possible if no lifeforms need to be supported. Also whether the ship will be in space indefinitely, or enters any planet's atmosphere. Even so, doors are not needed, if pressure changes are required, this can be done through a small pump vent, rather than a (large) door. $\endgroup$
    – Plutian
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 11:46

The sail is everything.

The structure of a ship powered by a laser sail will be dictated by the needs of the sail: how it captures the laser energy and transmits it via physical structure to the rest of the ship. The sail might be fitted with maneuvering jets to keep it in true. By necessity the sail will be a very large physical structure.

Everything else can be distributed about the sail. The AI itself will be housed in multiply redundant servers thru the sail. Repair bots will ride in pods distrubuted about the sail, to minimize travel distance when they sally out to repair the sail.

The center of the sail will probably be the most robust structure as it must withstand and redistribute forces from the periphery. There is probably room at the center to house the lab.

I envision the sail as much like a spider web.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I hadn't given the sail that much thought, good ideas. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 21:51

Your ship may actually still have an atmosphere! Although it may not be a human breathable one.

Your ship's maintenance robots need a way to get around, one way they can accomplish this is through arms and legs. However, those are pretty high maintenance themselves and you want to reduce how much repair they need as possible. A low cost alternative to moving around the interior of your ship would be filling internal sacks with gas and then venting it out to push your robots around.

This would be a safer method than rockets for obvious reasons, would require minimal power, and would reduce the odds of a robot getting stranded away from a bulkhead with no way to move itself.

Additionally, little "highways" of sorts could be constructed where the airflow travels incredibly fast and robots deploy chutes to ride the current from one point to another very quickly.

You would want to choose a gas which is

  1. Cheap
  2. Nonreactive
  3. Can be replaced in the areas you expect your ship to travel to (It may be used during evas as well)
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting idea, thanks $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 20:38

You must log in to answer this question.