The automated intensive care unit (AICU) is an automated medical chamber used for storing and transporting inert human clones. It is equipped with redundant life support capabilities for extended deployments outside of station-hosted medical facilities. Originally used for disaster relief and battlefield applications, they are today used for VIPs in dangerous situations and the discrete cloning of capsuleers.
The AICU relies on several independently developed technologies to keep inert clones alive and healthy, ready for use. The first is expansive life support systems that include dialysis, circulatory regulation, nutrient and calorie injection, and muscular stimulation. These systems keep bodies strong and healthy, so that newly-cloned individuals need not relearn to walk or undergo intensive physical therapy. It also prevents organs from being overworked, ensuring they are ready for transplant when needed.
It also includes a stasis system, which keeps bodies in suspended animation. These systems can be cryonic, fluid, or hybrid in nature. Cryonic systems are typically used for long-term deployment areas, such as on deep-space transports and exploration missions. Clones are essentially flash-frozen and slowly revived when they are needed. Fluid systems are closer in design to cloning facilities, with clones suspended in vats of fluid. These systems are traditionally used in battlefields or disaster relief, as they allow for quicker deployment of clones at the cost of a shorter shelf-life. Hybrid models combine the two systems, with clones being thawed from long-term storage and placed in fluid vats prior to entry into battles or other dangerous situations, though they are much more expensive than single-method models.
These systems are controlled by an applied AI that must monitor the clones and adjust conditions in each individual chamber to insure the body is in peak health and ready for use. These AIs are reactive in nature and can intelligently select alterations to the conditions, but are unable to take any actions outside of their parameters.
The AICU was developed soon after human cloning became reliable and widespread. In the early days, cloning was used primarily for organ harvesting and medical transplants, as neural scanning technology was still in its infancy and had not yet been married to the capsule. In these days, "donor" clones were created that had a high level of compatibility with many different genetic backgrounds, allowing organs, blood, and other medical necessities to be readily available across the cluster.
However, these clones originally were restricted to medical facilities, where they could be stored in cryonic suspension and quickly revived when emergencies presented themselves. This was disadvantageous in cases where transport to hospitals was impossible, such as in low-security space, on battlefields, or at the scene of natural disasters.
The automated intensive care unit was created to solve this problem, allowing clones to be stored and transported outside of their facilities for long periods of time.
Automated intensive care units originally saw use in military applications, on the front lines for the treatment of infantry while under fire. Soldiers who had suffered dismemberment, organ failure, or required blood transfusions could quickly be treated with parts harvested from the clones. This increased battlefield survival immensely, as individuals who would normally die while being transported to proper facilities were able to be treated quickly.
Over time, the technology entered into public use. The technology was quickly adapted for disaster relief, when traditional medical facilities were overloaded or disabled. AICUs became standard pieces of equipment for Servant Sisters of EVE rapid-response teams.
With the rise of capsuleers, it found additional uses, particularly among criminal elements and those who wished for secrecy. Rather than keeping clone contracts with standard cloning facilities, these elements maintained their own clones and stored them in AICUs. Because the units can be moved around, they were harder to locate and clones could be activated out of the public eye. The downside of this is that clones are unable to be updated as frequently and, because they are not tied directly to the dedicated cloning fluid routers, are less reliable and more prone to cloning accidents.