Oh yes, we really could use BOTH ideas. In fact you could combine it somewhat in having a “Drone” build the enviro dome for player use…?
I think I’d place the ability to make these early game (at least in their T1 version) so you would make an auto explorer/exploiter Before you leaned how to make T1 Colonisers. That would slightly slow early expansion to strategic systems but actually encourage early stage warfare as I said as we used scouts and other simple T1 hulls to dislodge other players Outpost Domes from particularly “juicy” systems.
But I’m open to other ideas, but this is very fertile ground for many things. A tutorial mission that shows how to deploy a MinerBot/drone on a planet neatly slots into the idea of explaining aspects of the game to new players in a really simple format to my mind.
On the subject of “Drones” I had an idea a while back on a similar idea for combat purposes. Maybe a “drone” Hull could be added to the T1 Ships to fulfil both ideas. Obviously it would be small cheap and (frankley) expendable, as long as you have a “control ship” within sensor radius they would function for the owning player.
But if you killed that ship then you could maybe “steal” control of certain drones perhaps…? Loadsa possibilities here!