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Nanobots are machines smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. While humanity has had some level of nanorobotics since the mid 22nd century, it was contact with the Rokhandan Directorate that brought the technology to its current height and widespread use.
Nanobots are an essential though often unseen part of life in the 29th century, from manufacturing and weapons to even medicine.
While any self-replicating machine below 1 meter in size is heavily regulated, it is the field of nanobots where the consequences and penalties are severe. Every interstellar civilization has crossed worlds left barren under a kilometer-thick blanket of expired machines, and an unfortunate few have had to take drastic measure to prevent a similar fate.
The primary law of nanorobots is that they cannot self-replicate, or build a machine which will then make copies of them. The mere rumor of self-replicating nanobots is a quick way to bring investigation and a quarantine to whichever hapless planet or station they might be on.
For safety, all nanobots are manufactured on asteroids or stations in deep space, unable to fall into a planet's gravity well if a programming error occurs. 29th century nanobots have a significant lifespan in most environments, but still fail and require replacement. As a significant mining colony, Onia has a small number of nanobot manufacturers with stations orbiting the sun, though their primary focus is larger-scale bots more suited for industrial use and ore processing. Most nanobots for medical use are imported from more developed systems.
Industrial and manufacturing
The most common, ranging in size from a grain of sand to the thickness of a human hair. Most heavily used in the purification of W-1, they're frequently used for more small-scale, specialist purposes. They are generally kept in an electromagnetic field for power, but can function on their own power for a limited time.
Though illegal in the White Belt, tampering with and using industrial bots as a weapon is not unheard of, but highly uncommon due to their glacial speed and high cost.
While sufficient for the repair of most synthetics, industrial-scale nanobots are not approved for use on organic beings, as they lack the resolution to work at a cellular level.
Smaller than a white blood cell and nicknamed angeldust for its miraculous ability to repair even the worst injuries, nanorobotic medicine is not as prevalent on Onia as it would be on a more developed world. The quantities and expense required for their use and the support network required means that traditional 29th-century medicine is usually the first course of action.
Medical nanobots require an ambient EM field for power, and support equipment to monitor and direct the bots. They must constantly be replenished as they are flushed from the body, so nanobot usage is an in-patient treatment, generally submerged in a saline tank if there are external injuries.
While nanobots are the last resort for saving patients with catastrophic mortal injuries, they are also used in conjunction with traditional surgery and gene therapy as part of cosmetic Rapid Reconstructive Cell Therapy.