The armor of a Bolo unit is designed to withstand direct hits from all weapons, including in some of the stories nuclear weapons. The armor consists of composite materials that are named in the books as "durachrome", "flintsteel",  "duralloy" and "endurachrome".
Many models would also use ablative or ceramic tiles to provide additional protection against plasma weapons. Bolos are also described as having reactive armor to stop penetrator missiles that could bore through their regular armor , and energy battlescreens; battlescreens convert an enemy weapon fire into energy which could then be redirected to the Bolo's own systems and weapons.
Also, beginning with the Mark XXIII, internal disruptor fields were added to limit damage to vital systems from any attacks which did manage to penetrate the Bolo's outer defenses. Each unit is also equipped with passive and active sensors, as well as stealth and ECW capabilities. Later Marks were often also equipped with FTL comm. Power for weapons, battlescreens, and mobility is most often provided by one or more fission or fusion energy sources, in conjunction with high-capacity batteries which are used as secondary or emergency power supplies.
A Bolo's command center can remain operational for decades or centuries after reactor fuel is exhausted. As a last resort, Bolos may detonate their reactors to destroy an enemy, or prevent their capture. Early Bolo models are described as not self-aware artificial intelligences. Up to the Mark IX, they are only systems which automate the functioning of the vehicle under direct human command. Beginning with the Mark X, Bolos begin to use limited AI systems using pre-packaged battle plans which allows them to function relatively independently provided the situation on the battlefield falls within the parameters of its pre-loaded plan.
If not, the human commander needs to directly intervene either selecting a new battle plan or taking over the functions of the Bolo personally. This system is further advanced beginning with the Mark XV-R which is given a basic AI core capable of choosing between various pre-loaded plans based upon actual battlefield conditions.
However, what these earlier Bolos are not capable of doing is developing their own independent battle plans. Beginning with the Mark XX, Bolos are equipped with a psychotronic brain which gives them artificial intelligence. This is accomplished by separating main processing from personality. The two are integrated enabling the Bolo to come into possession of its full faculties only when battle preconditions are met, such as the approach of an enemy or the order of a human officer.
In later models, added redundancy reduces the likelihood of insanity and the restriction is relaxed to enhance intelligence. As a final safeguard, Bolos are equipped with a Total Systems Override Program nicknamed Omega Worm which erases the Bolo's software, rendering it brain-dead. This is triggered if a Bolo refuses an authorized order or if executed by a human operator. The cognitive inhibitions are completely removed after a review of the combat performance, at the Battle of Santa Cruz c.
Nike' s performance demonstrates the capabilities and reliability of fully autonomous psychotronics. Nike herself dies by Omega Worm as a result of refusing to obey an officer who is a traitor. This leads to a revision of the parameters for execution of Omega Worm in later model Bolos. Beginning with the Mark XXV models, Bolos become completely autonomous, capable of full self-direction in all situations.
However, it is found that the intuitive capabilities of human commanders working in conjunction with intelligent Bolos increases the effectiveness of the units and so, with some exceptions, human commanders continue to be assigned to, fight with and if necessary, die with their Bolos. This partnership is further enhanced with the introduction of the Mark XXXII which pioneers a neural interface which allows the Bolo and its human commander to mentally merge human intuition and Bolo processing speed.
Most later mark Bolos have several processing centers, the main core, the personality center, the damage control core in later models and the survival center. Some Bolos are given a secondary main core; however, this was not typical. Of these, the survival center is the most heavily protected. In the event of the destruction of the Bolo, the survival center is designed to protect the Bolo's core personality and programming for later retrieval and reactivation.
Each Bolo contains several computer "cores" with different functions, each of which contains multiple fully functional duplicates in case of failure. If a Bolo's logic becomes dysfunctional enough, it regresses to the original Resartus protocol , which is embedded in all self-aware models just for such a case. A key factor in Bolo psychotronic design is the need to address public and military concern over the potential catastrophe which could be unleashed in the event of a Bolo disobeying orders or being suborned.
To mitigate this, a number of safeguards are included in the psychotronic design—specifically a focus on loyalty, honour and a strong sense of duty, as well as a restriction on the level of awareness and processing power made available to the Bolo outside of combat. These safeguards often combine with the prejudices of ranking officers to cause the unnecessary destruction of a Bolo during combat. On several occasions obsolete Bolos go rogue, causing significant destruction, loss of life and bad publicity for the Dinochrome Brigade : as a result, a special unit was set up to find all such units and burn out their control centers.
On several occasions, Bolos have turned against their commanders during combat: in Bolo! Although it is revealed at the end that Unit LNC had received battle damage that almost destroyed his personality center causing it to lose the IFF capability.
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