Shortly after the first civil war it became increasingly apparent that the existing methods of starship command and control where becoming stretched, existing computer technology at the time was unable to process the navigation data for a stable jump without taking hours or using existing planned routes and the ‘human’ element was limited to the speed of how fast their eyes, ears and other senses could process them, so the confederation naval command issued the orders to find a way around the problem. The result was PILOT or Personal Integrated Local Operation Technique, though no one has ever called it by anything other than ‘pilot’ or those who have undergone the projects modifications pilots.
The primary aspect of PILOT was simple in statement and yet immeasurably difficult in practice, to take the human sense lag out of the command and control link, the only method that allowed that to occur was to actually link the ships systems into the mind of the pilot themselves, allowing them to in effect reach out and use the ships own sensors and network as easily as their own hands or eyes. It took almost thirty years to get the initial aspects of the project nailed down extensive modifications of the human nervous system, nanotech implants within the mind of the original 76 people who volunteered for the program only 8 successfully finished all modifications and went on to actually be able to control ships by direct neural interfacing.
It took almost 20 years before the actual reasons for the major failures where completely understood, most actually simply did not have the mental fortitude to handle the massive amounts of extra sensory data, this resulted in a far more stringent program for selection of those who would undergo the treatments and even then the program only actually expanded by one pilot every two to five years, this has resulted in pilots being elevated to positions where they are well paid and cared for in attempts to maintain them within the fleet.
One strange aspect of the PILOT program has started to show in the last 100 years as some of those whom have undergone the program have had children. The offspring of pilots seem to naturally have the talents of their parents, scientists do not fully understand why, the nanotech adaptions should not have actually been able to be passed on or so it was thought however clearly they have been and the offspring of the pilots 90% of the time appear to be born with innate talent to access the nanotechnology within them instinctively, well beyond that of their parents. These children while their numbers are still extremely low have been classified as an emergent race in their own right, ‘Questars’.
Of the original program only four are known still to be active as actual naval pilots the most well-known is Deacon Nathanael Harding, who has played a major part in the history of the confederation over the past 200 years. The reason for that goes back to the original low yield in actual useful candidates, because the numbers where so low the confederation actually allowed an exemption on the Sydney Genetics Convention, pilots genome was modified to majorly reduce the amount of destruction due to ageing, while not ‘immortal’ in the true sense of the word genetically they age far slower than any other normal human, this set of mods would normally have been highly illegal but the yield from the project was so low it was needed, another trait that has been passed on to their offspring.
Despite this however it cannot be denied that the project was successful, ships under the control of pilots are capable of manoeuvres beyond that of those under the control of normal crews; This was shown not only in light of jump calculations which the human brain is capable of subconsciously processing faster than even a navigational computer but also in general manoeuvring.
- Excerpt Wikipedia Galactic Edition, Terran Subnet.