Rolf, or more accurately RoLF, is short for Robotic Life Form. Rolfs are automatons designed to function as assistants or servants, or to handle tasks too dangerous or menial for living beings. Some are designed in the likeness of their creators, while others are fashioned with respect to a particular job or environment. Sophisticated robots, rolfs have artificial intelligence and personalities to facilitate their occupations. Some are friendly and outgoing, others are rude and obnoxious. Many rolfs are even capable of personal development and growth over time, unless, of course, they are reprogrammed.
Depending on equipment and programming, rolfs may be designed to survive and function in hostile environments. Hard vacuum, extreme heat and cold, or watery depths are only a few of the areas rolfs regularly work in. The metallic skin of even common household types can withstand harsh environmental extremes, thus protecting the delicate inner circuitry.
Some rolfs, usually of the protocol class, are capable of speech, allowing direct communication with living beings. Certain rolfs interface with computer monitors and communicate with their masters via screen readouts. Most other classes and subclasses have their own unique language, usually a series of electronic beeps and whistles which they communicate with each other. All rolfs are programmed to understand at least one non-mechanical language, usually that of their master. Some may know hundreds of dialects, depending on their area of expertise and primary function. A few species have learned to understand basic rolf languages after long associations with particular makes and models.
A power cell built into each rolf provides energy to keep them running and must be recharged periodically. Depending on size, cost, and efficiency, power cells can operate for long periods of time without recharging, but most require power input every month. Some rolfs voluntarily shut down, when time and circumstances allow, to conserve energy and even make internal repairs.
Rolfs are classified by their primary functions:
- First-degree rolfs. Those skilled in physical, mathematical, or even medical sciences.
- Second-degree rolfs. Engineering and technical science functions.
- Third-degree rolfs. Those skilled in the social sciences and service areas such as translation, protocol, spaceport control, teaching, and diplomatic assistance.
- Fourth-degree rolfs. Security and military function rolfs.
- Fifth-degree rolfs. Those skilled in menial labor and other functions in which intelligence is not an important asset, including mining, salvage, transportation, and sanitation.
No matter what classification, each rolf has basic capabilities common to all. These include locomotion, sensory reception, logic, manipulation, and some form of communication.
There are two major rolf manufacturers in the Par'tha Expanse, Galactic Robotics and Duros Automation, and countless smaller corporations in immense rolf industry. Each company offers unique designs, sometimes producing several different rolf types within each market niche. Specific models can vary dramatically in terms of performance characteristics, specific mission programming or equipment, and, of course, cost.
As was stated, many rolfs are designed based on location and function, but some are at least humanoid in shape, if not appearance. Many of these possess high levels of artificial intelligence. It is unclear, or at least as yet undetermined, what exactly the differences are between Par'tha Expanse rolfs of this nature and known androids such as the ones from Mudd's World, or Soong-type androids.