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Transformers technology refers to various technologies in Transformers series of comic books, films, animated series, and other media. The term refers to unusual processes, such as the departure from the standard Transformer ability to change between two different forms, as well as technology utilized by the Transformers in-series.
The term "Combiner" refers to a sub-group of Transformers able to combine their bodies and minds into a singular, larger, more powerful super-robot (the process is referred to in Computron's Marvel tech spec as "combinatics"). The term "Combiner" comes from the sub-group's ability to "combine" into a larger robot.
Combiner technology has its downsides as well, the primary one being that the combined robot can only do what all of its components agree upon. For beings such as Devastator, that is typically wanton destruction and nothing else. There is a flipside to this: Computron's main problem is that every problem must be worked out to every conceivable solution; even with Computron's enhanced computers, this is a time-consuming task, which for example led to his quick defeat by Abominus (another Decepticon Combiner) around the time of the Hate Plague.
The term "gestalt" was adopted by small minority of fans as the catch-all name for combining Transformers. Although not officially employed on any merchandise by Hasbro, it appears that the term is recognized by them for its use in the fandom, although it is generally passed over in favor of the more widely used term Combiners in fandom. It may also be noted that the US Marvel Generation 2 comic issue #9 uses the term "fusilateral-quintrocombiners" for 5-member teams such as the Combaticons, (and presumably other "Scramble City" style-combiners).
In the American animated series, and various comic incarnations, many Transformers have the ability to change size during transformation, while a glowing outline occasionally appears around their bodies as they do so. Notable examples include Megatron, Soundwave and his operatives Ravage, Rumble, Frenzy, Laserbeak, the transporter Astrotrain and the Autobot Blaster. Long since regarded as a source of confusion, such technology first received a full-scale explanation in the final issue of the Generation One version of Dreamwave Productions' More Than Meets The Eye series, which focused on many different aspects of Transformers technology and other information. In IDW Publishing's Transformers: Escalation it is also mentioned that it takes considerable power to accomplish this feat. During Optimus Prime and Prowl's conversation, it is hinted at that the technology is old, but has not been in use for some time. Megatron and Soundwave are the first Transformers in this continuity to display mass displacement. Although used in the animated series quite often, mass displacement was not utilized by any of the Autobots or Decepticons in the 2007 Transformers film, as the producers claimed that they considered it a form of "cheating". This claim is contradicted however, when the film depicts the Allspark displacing mass when it reduces itself from its Hoover Dam filling size to one that Sam is capable of carrying around. In Transformers Prime, Predaking, a Predacon gets bigger when transforming into his alt mode ( read: dragon ), as well as fellow Predacons Darksteel and Skylynx, from the series finale movie Predacons Rising.
In the American comic and cartoon, the Master process was acquired from Nebulos. It allows humans or Nebulons to become components of Transformers using cybernetic exosuits in a process referred to as Binary Bonding (although not all Master processes involve bonding with humans). Still experimental, the results of this are unpredictable. Known Master technologies are:
In the extended Japanese continuity, the master process can use either humanoids or robots to form the binary bonding component. The original Headmasters, for example, were originally small Cybertronians, taken to the planet "Master" by Fortress, where they began to experiment with how to transform. They created large, lifeless Transformer bodies named "Transtectors" to which they connected as heads, forming the basis for Master technology. After returning to Cybertron, Headmaster technology (called the Masterforce) was modified to allow humans to become Headmasters; the first six were a group of teenagers known as the "Headmaster Juniors".
While the Japanese concept for Headmasters featured only one mind in the process, Targetmasters did indeed consist of a bonding of two beings, as in America - in this case, a group of refugees from Master who were fused to the arms of several larger Transformers in a plasma energy explosion.
In Japan, Powermasters are known as Godmasters, and, like Headmasters, consist of a human being bonded to a Transtector. The Godmasters were created as part of a plan by the super-energy being, Devil Z, to create the ultimate super robot lifeform, and possess control over the energies of the Earth, the heavens and man.
Although made from a living metal, various Cybertronians have found sufficient cause or reason to incorporate purely organic material into their forms.
Pretenders, introduced in 1988, followed the concept of Transformers using organic shells as an extra disguise or as armor for defense. The concept was first seen in Marvel Comics with Thunderwing and Bludgeon as notable Decepticons. Dreamwave Productions detailed the process and its transition from simple power-upgrading armor to a whole host of potential future applications in their More Than Meets The Eye series. In IDW Publishing's rebooted comic, Pretender technology had the benefit of turning a Transformer into a supremely powerful being (for example, Thunderwing destroyed much of Cybertron) -- but an improper grafting process could destroy the Transformer's mind.
In many series, it is shown that an organic shell could protect a Transformer's body from intense environmental conditions such as energon radiation. Dreamwave' More Than Meets The Eye series noted this as the logical progression for Pretenders technology, explaining that it had branched out to include specially designed suits for dealing with hazardous materials, etc. Similarly, in the IDW comic, Thunderwing had developed his Pretender technology, called "Bio-Cybernetic Grafting" as a way for Transformers to survive Cybertron's declining conditions. In Beast Wars, The Maximals and Predacons on earth adopted organic shells and animal forms because of the high amounts of natural energon on the planet. Similarly, in The Transformers: Spotlight, The Dinobots assumed dinosaur forms with organic shells to protect themselves from energon radiation.
Techno-Organic Hybrids are transformers who possess or have obtained organic halves (having been infused with an organic being's DNA) and can be considered a fusion of both technological & organic lifeforms. Transformers of this type are featured prominently in the Beast Wars era and even more so in Beast Machines (with their existence and techno-organic nature being an important plot element). Their outward appearance often varies from slightly robotic, completely organic, or a combination of the two.
In Transformers: Animated, transformers with organic halves are rare due to limited cybertronian interaction with organic life (planets with organic life are considered mostly off limits by the Autobots). Due to this unfamiliarity with organic life many Transformers have difficulty relating to it and some (like Sentinel Prime) have developed a phobia of organics, with others seeing it is seen as a form of contamination. As a result, techno-organic transformers are likely to be viewed by other "pure" transformers with contempt (being regarded as freaks/abomination). These Transformers have their original abilities augmented by the genetic makeup of the organic they can transform into.
In this series, the Decepticon Blackarachnia is techno-organic reformat of Elita-1 (a female Autobot Elite Guard trainee), after she tried to "download" the abilities of an "organic species of alien spider" to neutralize the venom injected into her. But the attempt unintentually transformed into a techno-organic hybrid (and is considered by both herself and others a freak). Though she repeatedly tries to purge herself of her organic-half, she has failed every time (and it appears she is likely to remain as such). Her recent attempt involved duplicating the process using a transwarp generator, using it on Wasp and resulting in his reformating in Waspinator.
Another character in the series, a girl named Sari Sumdac, was originally a cybertronian protoform, that mysteriously appeared in the lab of human inventor, Professor Isaac Sumdac. While investigating the mysterious "liquid metal being", he accidentally touched the protoform (which rendered him briefly unconscious), unintentually infusing the young protoform with his DNA, resulting in the birth of a redheaded techno-organic female clone of Sumdac (a "techno-organic human/transformer hybrid" in the form of a human girl). Professor Sumdac decides to unofficially adopt her as his daughter, Sari (Prof. Sumdac decided to keep the truth of her origins a secret from her, due in part to him being unaware of what had actually occurred). Unlike Blackarachnia and Waspinator, Sari was not actually a Transformer to begin with was and started off more organic at first, both in biology (possessing normal human biological functions) and in outward appearance.
Her techno-organic nature (except for a few hints) is not fully revealed until the very end of the 2nd season, when her elbow is injured, tearing the skin and revealing a robotic joint underneath. After the truth is revealed, Sari's techno-organic nature becomes more apparent, being able to transform into a slightly robotic version of herself. Her techno-organic nature is further enhanced when she uses her "All-Spark enhanced Key" to reformat herself into a teenaged form, with her new body functioning like a "techno-organic powersuit" (equipped which energy-based roller blades and weapons).
The life essence of a Transformer is called a Spark, an incandescent sphere of light that is, in essence, both the heart and soul of the Transformer. From a scientific point of view it is said (By Rattrap in Beast Machines) to be composed of or at least containing positrons. Following the construction of the Transformer body, Sparks can be implanted in a variety of ways, depending on the continuity.
Other methods of creation include:
In a few notable cases, Transformers have displayed the ability to physically age. Most Transformers' ages are clear from their personalities, defined by their life experiences - for example, Hot Shot would be a young adult and Hot Rod is the equivalent of a teenager while Kup, Jazz and Ironhide are old warhorses. Optimus Prime, although clearly a mature, older father figure to most Autobots is still considerably younger than the old veterans and even his arch-foe Megatron. In Kup's case, he physically appears older through simple wear to his body over time. However, at the opposite end of the specutrum, there is the most ancient Autobot, Alpha Trion, who has appeared in three distinct stages of life, (one million years old, three million years old, and twelve million years old), with a suitably different physical construction each time (including the growth of shaped metal that resembles facial "hair"). Transformers facial structures have even changed over time with brow crevices, angled cheek lines and discolored tooled metal appearing on their chins that show aging on their living metal skin. Notable examples of this are Prowl, Rodimus Prime, Galvatron, Blurr, Cyclonus, Scourge, Ultra Magnus and even the ancient destroyer Unicron. In the comics, an aged and mentally ravaged Rodimus Prime discusses "Aspects of Evil" with a soon to become turncoat autobot.
Although aging takes its toll on performance and appearance, there are no known incidences of transformers dying from "old age". Presumably, with regular maintenance and Energon, a Transformer could live forever.
Stasis lock is an operational state meant to protect the spark of a Transformer following severe trauma; it is similar to a coma in humans. Stasis lock is known to be able to maintain the spark of a Transformer for millions of years if necessary. Once in stasis lock, outside intervention is required to reactivate the Transformer.
In the event of critical damage, outside life support mechanisms can support the body of a Transformer while the spark is transplanted. This is a rare occurrence as usually the spark is terminated quickly after the damage is inflicted. A notable occurrence of this happening is Optimus Primal taking the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, and Optimus Prime's spark, during the Beast Wars on prehistoric Earth while Teletraan I and other Maximals were repairing the incredible damage to his body.
A CR Chamber (Critical Recovery Chamber) can reverse serious damage to Transformers. It was introduced as Maximal technology during Beast Wars. The process takes time, but is not as lengthy as manual repair. A CR Chamber is used when a Transformer's internal repair processes cannot repair damage taken in a battle. It restores the bot to perfect physical condition. Problems with programming and data, such as viruses and core conscience damage, cannot be remedied and must be resolved manually. Similar technologies include the Predacon R Tank. The CR Chmamber/R Tank may also have protective qualities, as it possibly prevented Waspinator from becoming a Transmetal during a quantum surge after he fell into one, Rhinox and Dinobot may have also been protected by CR Chambers in the same manner. However, Tigertron, Airazor, Blackarachnia and Inferno also did not become Transmetals, despite not being protected, so it is more likely that the quantum surge simply did not affect all Transformers. Also some protoforms in Stasis Pods were mutated by the surge, such as Rampage's and the one used to replace Optimus Primal's destroyed body, while others, such as Fuzor Silverbolt's were unaffected. The Fuzor Quickstrike was noted to have Transmetal-like plating for his Scorpion half, but not his Cobra half and he lacked a vehicle mode.
Death of a Transformer can follow irreversible (mortal) stasis lock or be caused by a sudden traumatic injury (such as a close-proximity nuclear explosion, or spark excision). A few weapons, such as a high powered fusion cannon, are known to be powerful enough to cause severe enough damage to immediately terminate a Transformer. Also, while the utter destruction of a body can and usually does cause death, a Transformer can often survive total dismemberment. Notable examples include Optimus Prime (during the Generation 1 series), Ultra Magnus (during the movie), Starscream and Waspinator (repeatedly).
Transformers who die from stasis lock usually turn a neutral gray, as the color leaves their living metal bodies. For example, Optimus Prime, various Insecticons and Seekers, Blaster, Soundwave, and Starscream (debatable, as his body was incinerated) have all turned gray upon death. Ultra Magnus did not turn gray, however, this may be because his actual body was encased in armor at the time. There is debate on whether the armor was constructed of living metal or not. Also, in The Transformers: Stormbringer, Iguanus' body turned a uniform purple upon his death.
Transformers who die from mortal injury (as seen during the movie) have shown signature flashes in their optics, fire or smoke that discharges from their mouths or open wounds and bodily function failure depending on the type of energy that penetrates their outer shells and disables their inner circuits. For example, Brawn, Prowl, Ironhide and Ratchet were shot to death with explosive plasma blasts. Because they didn't die an immediate death or suffered a slow death from their wounds, their inherit colors seemed to remain (temporarily) intact. Transformers also show the ability to feel pain from more damaging wounds that crack, bends and even breaks parts of their living metal skin.
In the "Transformers: Animated" series debut (2007-2009), Optimus Prime was killed by an energy shockwave from the Allspark which was meant to drive Starscream away after they had fought each other. However, Sari Sumdac's new AllSpark-upgraded key card instantly restored Optimus to life. When Optimus died, his body also turned gray, though he was not in stasis lock at the time; when he was restored, he changed back to his normal coloring.
It is known that some or all of a Transformer's essence moves to a separate spatial realm accessible by the Matrix or into the Matrix itself upon spark termination.
On rare occasions, a destroyed Transformer can be brought back to life using the proper knowledge. Quintessons have been known to do this. The Transformer creator Primus can also accomplish resurrections, but it is beyond the scope of modern Transformers technology. The method of a spark returning to the body has yet to be pinpointed, however it is believed an outside force, seen or unseen, may guide the spark back to the body, perhaps utilizing Zone Energy. Incidents of this occurring include the Quintesson revival of Optimus Prime and Rhinox's recovery of Optimus Primal after a transwarp explosion in space destroyed Primal's original body (and created a transwarp rift through which an ion trail could be created. If this feat is impossible with normal transformer technology, then the alien energy released by the detonation of the "Vox" device must be seen as responsible for access to "the other side of the Matrix" as well as producing part alien transmetal forms.)
Starscream was also given a new physical body after death by Unicron. However, unlike normal sparks that disappear from this world, Starscream's spark was able to continue existing in the physical world as a ghost and had the power to possess and control over Transformers, such as Cyclonus and Scourge. In Beast Wars it is stated that Starscream's spark could also travel through time as well as space, explaining his possession of Waspinator, and is believed by Transformer scientists to be a rare mutant spark that is indestructible/immortal and therefore not subject to the normal laws governing death.
In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Megatron is also resurrected from the bottom of the ocean (where he was left in the first movie) to find The Fallen.
The Space Bridge is a technology that enables Transformers to traverse great distances-usually interstellar as indicated by the name-without the use of a spacecraft or alternate mode.
The Space Bridge was introduced as a Decepticon technology, typically enabling them to move back and forth between Earth and their homeworld of Cybertron while the Autobots were typically confined to the former. However, on several occasions the Autobots commandeered the Space Bridge for their own uses, usually to reach Cybertron to stop a Decepticon plot. Its use was largely discontinued after the Decepticons fled Cybertorn during the events of The Transformers Movie and began relying upon their alternate forms for travel.
In this series the term Space Bridge referred to the Autobots' means of traversing the planet unseen, a hidden road network that extends to most parts of the planet. Created by the Build Team, this Space Bridge is more limited than other versions, as it is a physical road rather than a portal or teleportation device.
In Transformers: Energon, the Autobots and Decepticons utilize a similar technology to travel, opening portals through which they are able to travel vast distances. Transformers: Cybertron saw this means of transit replaced by the warp abilities of Vector Prime and other Cybertronians.
In this series the Autobots control a vast network of Space Bridges, which was one of the key forces behind their victory over the Decepticons in the Great War. The Space Bridge network is enabled by numerous relay stations across the galaxy, which individual Transformers and vessels can access in order to travel from one point to another. Omega Supreme was also equipped with his own Space Bridge drive, enabling him to teleport without accessing a Space Bridge.
Both Autobots and Decepticons utilize Space Bridge technology in the Aligned continuity, which also introduced a variant of the technology known as the Ground Bridge. This version is a less powerful variant of the Space Bridge, with its name referring to its more limited range, as it is only capable of transport to other points on the same planet or in nearby space.
In the 2007 Michael Bay-directed live-action film, Optimus Prime revealed to Sam Witwicky that the surviving Cybertronians managed to learn Earth's languages through the World Wide Web (with the auction site eBay being cited throughout the film as the primary source of information regarding the eyeglasses of Sam's great-grandfather, Captain Archibald Witwicky), hinting that the Transformers, being highly evolved sentient electronically composed beings, possess the capability to both interface with communications networks and protocols and glean information from Internet-accessible documents, files and applications. However, the capability of the Transformers to learn both written and spoken languages through the World Wide Web and translate between the Cybertronian language and Earth-human languages was not fully explained in the film.