Yes there are NPC’s in Eve Online. The thesis of this feature suggestion entails the implementation of zero feature NPC cargo haulers, a range of new skills, and arguably a new set of interface intended to facilitate managing instructions to NPC haulers.
Haulers are NPC’s with definitive features and skills. They do not inhabit a pod and when the ship they are in is destroyed, they die. This constraints the amount of haulers available after they are attritioned away, but when attritioned they will gradually regenerate in specific systems and stations. Some subcategories of haulers (or later - other categories of NPC mercenaries…) may have benefits, if such granularity adds sufficient meaning to the game.
Haulers can only fly a new category of Vanilla Ships. These are lousy ships in all respects, and most may not even have slot options for anything beyond cursory weapon systems. The reason for such lousy resourcing will be to give these vessels an appealing quality as targets for pirates.
Haulers can be instructed to haul, period. They can be given quite sophisticated instructions (based on troop commander skill of the player. ) and can be instructed to fetch ore type A, from specifically named containment in stations, and then proceed to take these resources, objects or whatever to another location. Being able to funnel large amounts of resources effectively automatically to other locations provides corporations and alliances to great strategical and territorial power.
These NPC’s refuse to enter systems with large active war presence or activity, waiting near a station in an earlier system (or predetermined rally point) so they will not contribute to system lag, when such conditions apply.
PC pirates will thus have new objectives in severing supply routes for lifeblood of corporations and alliances as it were. Think of the potential.
I can easily visualize a half dozen skills that affect various traits of these henchmen, their pay rate, loyalty, programmability (?), distance at which they can be instructed.