I never saw a drone fire a weapon or anything where this laser guidance might have helped them. Out-of-universe it makes for a nice menacing effect when several drones step through fog, but I really see no point in these things in-universe. The laser doesn't seem to have any effect on humanoids, so it's definitively not a weapon.

So, what is it good for? Also, why do some drones lack one?

  • maybe its a form of LIDAR? – Xantec Mar 24 '12 at 20:17
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    Come on, it’s obviously just for visual effect. Pretty cool though. – Alan H. Mar 24 '12 at 20:38
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    @Xantec: I also considered that, but why would it be visible light then? Giving away the drone's position. – bitmask Mar 24 '12 at 22:57
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    A toy for Borg cats? – jfrankcarr Mar 25 '12 at 2:42
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    @jfrankcarr: They assimilate cats?! Those bastards! Now I know where they got that potent domination drive! – Bobby Mar 28 '12 at 20:54

Despite its awesome cool factor, it could be used for a variety of information-gathering technologies. Extrapolating from how humans use lasers, it is not a far reach to think the Borg could also use such technologies for similar reasons.

Wikipedia reminds us:

The basic technology is called LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging, also LADAR) is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of a target by illuminating the target with light, often using pulses from a laser. LIDAR technology has application in geomatics, archaeology, geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology, forestry, remote sensing and atmospheric physics,1 as well as in airborne laser swath mapping (ALSM), laser altimetry and LIDAR contour mapping.

Coupled with the Borg sophisticated computer technology:

  • the laser emitter could be connected with a variety of information gathering sciences, allowing them to learn a vast array of information about their enemies.

  • The most likely use of that laser is to detect range, biological information, spectroscopic analysis (similar to how bomb detection lasers function) matter density, armor density and composition to name just a few.

From a production standpoint

  • To be fair, it is unlikely but not impossible anyone would have considered this when they were adding the visual components to the Borg costuming and just considered it an imposing lighting effect, especially through the stage smoke.

  • How fortuitous that technology has progressed enough so a purpose could be theoretically assigned to the effect and have it be a reasonable one. Star Trek again, in a strange way, predicts the future.

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    I think some of the laser technologies work better if they are of higher energies, which might require they be in the visible spectrum. (Looks cooler, too...) – Thaddeus Howze Mar 25 '12 at 0:57
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    @bitmask if the beam wasn't visible, we wouldn't be able to see it. It may be the case that every drone has some sort of active laser scanner on it somewhere, and the Collective only assigns the visible laser pointer scanner to low-value drones :) – Tacroy Mar 26 '12 at 23:10
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    @bitmask: The "visible spectrum" is specific to the human eye. Different species can detect different wavelengths of light, even here on Earth. E.g. many birds can see longer wavelengths than humans (including IR) while some insects can see shorter wavelengths. Plus, Borg drones don't really require stealth (just as they never run). – Lèse majesté May 28 '15 at 17:55
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    Obviously it's to ease the task of performing PowerPoint presentations for the whole Collective. – user40790 May 28 '15 at 18:05
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    If the laser pointer is used for vision assistance, it's important to remember why we've evolved to see the wavelengths of light that we do. The human-visible spectrum reflects better than infrared, which is absorbed as heat by more materials (more effective for a cutting or damage). Of course traditional radar is lower frequency than infrared, and there's nothing stopping the Borg from lasing radio frequencies. I'm not sure if ultra-violet would be even better in this regard, but if you use a very-high energy light source, it starts to penetrate common materials. (Plus, can Borgs get cancer?) – Dacio May 28 '15 at 18:21

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