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Is there an in-universe explanation for why the Borg always move like 1950s cheap-special-effects sci-fi tin can robots?

With the advanced technology they have, you'd think they would have BETTER (faster, more graceful) movement than humans, with more advanced power sources, better motors (or augmented muscles), and better controlled software/hardware.

Instead, they have these jerky, slow motion movements that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, except possibly that "the studio people wanted to make them look 'like robots'" (on top of all the visible Borg gear) and this was the only, not-too-brilliant, idea they came up with.

Is there an explanation for this? (ideally, in-universe, or an "official" franchise out-of-universe one)?

P.S. I'm interested in an existing explanation, NOT in someone's personal theory.

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    They move with robotic precision. What value is grace? They move about as much like car-building robots as a human actor can reproduce. – DampeS8N Mar 17 '11 at 11:20
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    @DampeS8N - what we subjectively consider "grace" is usually the sign of optimized movement being recognized by the brain. The way Borg move looks sub-optimal (very angular) - not to mention the slowness. The "car-building robots" analogy actually makes my point - those things have VERY poor control software compared to what Borg ought to have, and fairly primitive mechanics. Borg's should be an improvement on human motion, not deterioration. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 17 '11 at 14:05
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    @DVK there is a lot of waste in human motion, there is less waste motion on those car robots. Dancing robots in Japan are specifically designed to be graceful, but they use the same mechanics as the car robots. Actually, the newest car plants have more advanced robots. I'm convinced the Borg look wonky because of the humans playing them and the technical limitations of the special effects; not because they appear like the car robots. Also, how would you get people to be super-humanly graceful, actors can't do it? :) – DampeS8N Mar 17 '11 at 14:10
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    @DVK you mean like the other CGI in the show? It would have looked like a Star Trek / Reboot crossover. – DampeS8N Mar 17 '11 at 17:55
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    I'm reminded of a quote from Goodfellas: "Paulie may have moved slow, but it was only because Paulie didn't have to move for anybody." – Paul D. Waite Aug 19 '13 at 12:30
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There is no in-universe "canon" reason why the Borg move the way they do: it's akin to asking why Vulcans have pointed ears. It's just the style given to them during their conception and development.

As mentioned in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission, the original concept for the Borg was the character Lord Dread from Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. Like the Borg, Lord Dread was a cybernetic being bent on assimilation and domination, and [spoke and moved very deliberately]

  • Awesome video clip! That guy is practically a spitting image of Patrick Stewart. I was looking at the credits on wikipedia and Babylon 5's J. Michael Straczynski wrote for that show. – Mark Rogers Mar 17 '11 at 3:29
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    @Mark - is there a cite for this influence? I saw several rumors to the effect (e.g. that Borg were stolen from Captain Power) but not any actual confirmation. Mind you, from the looks comparison, I can definitely believe the rumors. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 17 '11 at 3:45
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    @DVK ...have you watched the video? The Borg are almost a direct rip-off of Lord Dread. It's also mentioned in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission by Judith Reeves-Stevens. – user366 Mar 17 '11 at 3:52
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    But this doesn't answer the in-universe "why?" – Robert Cartaino Mar 17 '11 at 3:55
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    @Robert there is no in-universe reason. The question asked for in-universe or official out-of-universe reasons. – user366 Mar 17 '11 at 3:57
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It's pure writing. Everyone knows that slowly moving robots (and monsters) are more scary. That's why Jason never ran (that I know of). He just always walked and somehow appeared when it was time to kill.

Slowness also illustrates and exaggerates the effect. For example, watch Bionic Woman or Six Million Dollar Man. When they ran at high speeds, they were often shown in SLOW motion to increase the effect. Or when they would toss someone it was in slow motion.

Also, have you notice there is actually very little running in ST in general. Can't tell you how many times I've seen "security to deck whatever" and you see Worf or Tuvok (spelling?) actually WALKING. lol

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    As for the 'No-running' part There was a question here that has a very good answer on the subject – Robotnik Jan 4 '13 at 6:53
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Speed and agility are irrelevant to the Borg collective. The Borg MO is to beam into a target area to accomplish some specific task. Some of the drones are just there to soak up damage and ensure task is accomplished. They don't attack unless fired on first. Losses are irrelevant as long as the task is completed. Fighting back is irrelevant except to protect the task. Even their ship-to-ship weapons are designed primarily to break down the opposing ship's shields, rather than outright destruction. The collective doesn't WANT to kill anyone - they want to ASSIMILATE everyone. From their POV, they're doing everyone a favor - we're just too primitive to understand that.

Granted, I'm basing this mainly on their behavior in the Enterprise's first encounter with the Borg, but it's consistent with their stated goals.

3

The real reason the Borg move so slowly is because they had no need for fast mobility. Fast mobility in the Borg's eyes represents desperation. The slowness of their movements represents inevitability that no matter how many you kill the Borg slowly but surely will assimilate you. Unless their entire existence is threatens where they would have a need to retool for increased mobility, the Borg will remain that way.

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    "P.S. I'm interested in an existing explanation, NOT in someone's personal theory." – Andres F. Aug 18 '13 at 21:22
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The in-universe supported answer is a combination of arrogance, intimidation and processing speed. They're still 'individually' capable of far quicker movements as we saw in (ENT: 2x23, 'Regeneration') but are limited by the hive mind's tactical control. This neural interface acts much like the governor on a car. Once this interface is broken, speedy action is again possible.

1) Even though the Borg don't have feelings, they do exude a kind of arrogance and are always overconfident. This overconfidence within the collective has always been their achilles heel. They collectively didn't realize that an 'inferior' ship or individual can still be creative and win the day. This gives experienced crews like those of the Enterprise just enough room to maneuver against their far superior technological force but inferior un-evolving tactics.

2) The Borg are a great "villain" because of that "arrogance." They do recognize the intimidation factor of walking slowly toward their prey like the tide coming in, unstoppable. "Resistance is futile".

3) Limited processing power. Its a hive mind so there is so much going on its hard to multitask. That's why they ignore stuff until it became an immediate threat. Kinda like we can't spare the processing power on this unimportant stuff. Lobotomized drone will just go about 'rote' functions...

  • "... but are limited by the hive mind's tactical control." = Laaaaag... – IQAndreas Nov 6 '14 at 14:22
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It may be for tactical reasons. Moving slower gives the Borg's enemies more chances to shoot them. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the Borg must first be hit by the enemy's weaponry before they can adapt. So they send in the drones slowly, the vanguards get hit and go down. This allows the rest of the drones coming in slowly from behind to adapt to the enemy's weapons.

If they have drones rushing to the front, they could all get huddled into one tight space. Then just one lucky grenade would be enough to kill the whole group. Sure, adapting would still take place, but an entirely new unit of drones would have to be deployed from the cube and rushed to the front lines, taking more time than was necessary.

Also, there's a reason for the Borg to act as frightening as possible. The Borg benefit the most from an enemy which has been routed, not one that has been decimated. If an enemy brakes formation, he/she/it can then be hunted down and converted into a new Borg drone. A slow unstoppable anvil of force would be more frightening. It would give more time to contemplate their impending doom, and thus be tempted to break formation and run. It's all about maximizing the time for dread to set in. This same strategy wouldn't work with human troops as they would also have to maintain their morale for this slow advance strategy, while Borg have no notion of morale.

It's also important to remember that every drone is both a warrior and a worker. Statistically speaking, they will spend most of their life as a drone in non-combat situations. And due to specialized drones being deployed evenly throughout the cube, there's no great impetus for having to quickly re-deploy workers to a remote location.

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Who ever said that they all do?

We never do see any tactical drones (or at least were never told any of the drones we did see were tactical drones). So who is to say that they don't move as 'gracefully' as non-Borg individuals?

In fact, there are several examples that show us that any Borg drone has the ability to move as freely as they wish. We are shown in a fight between Starfleet personnel and drones that are a part of Lore's collective, that they do indeed have full mobility. Seven of Nine is also shown to have unimpaired mobility (even before being disconnected from the collective) in "Scorpion, Part II."

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    Some drones move pretty quickly in Voyager, to the extent that you have to run to get away from them. So... – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 3 '17 at 13:55
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I can see only one reason. The script writer wanted the borg to be scary. Like zombies. They are so superior and many that they can just walk up to you and assimilate you, ignoring losses.

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    Is this just your personal theory? Do you have references for this? – Chenmunka Oct 19 '16 at 13:53
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The in universe answer depends on whether the Borg use the organism's sense of space awareness, known as Proprioception, or if that data is received from sensors instead.

If Borg use Proprioception, they wouldn't be any more jerky than a human.

Since the borg do move like Robots It's reasonable to assume they collect positioning data in a manner similar to robotics. Robots are jerky because they work sequentially. Meaning the robot moves on to the next command only after the previous command is executed.

For example; the arm moves to a point, then to another point, then the gripper closes, etc. Even Helical and Parabolic moves have start and end points. The point to point method is integral to robotics. Unless the Borg utilize the sense of Proprioception, point to point motion is how they would operate.

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    "Meaning the robot moves on to the next command only after the previous command is executed." This is completely infeasible. Even the computer you are currently using would not be useful for the tasks you perform on it, if it worked in this manner. CPU pipelining is second nature to processors developed after, like, the 1980s. I presume here that a Borg drone is far more complex to operate. I do appreciate that the production team wanted to give the Borg the look of fairly primitive moving robots, but I don't think this works as an in-universe answer. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 3 '17 at 13:56
  • I work with robotics professionally, and I can confirm that they do work sequentially. It's not about the processor's ability, It's about the Program, controlling the Robot, which has to preform operations in steps. For example, closing the gripper before the tooling even reaches the part it's meant to grab would be problematic. you could damage the part and the robot. You are also neglecting the "work envelope" in which tooling may have to move around obstacles. just because it can perform every step at once, doesn't mean it should. – RedOculus Feb 10 '17 at 0:04
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    Borg drones have brains and are sufficiently advanced to preplan operations just like we do. I've worked with robots too and they can certainly do that too, preparing a tool while moving it into place; obviously you don't do steps in the wrong order but that doesn't mean you can't carefully interleave them by constructing a tree of dependant actions. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 10 '17 at 10:40
  • ok now that that is clear, lets explore proprioception. We living creature see something, then reach out and grab it. if the Borg do not use proprioception, they would log an object at coordinates x46, y-23 z-6... Then they would move the X motor until it's encoder moves +46 units, they can possibly move the Y motor at the same time, or not depending on the situation. Then it would move to Z motor -6 to get it's gripper down into place. having to make that Z move separate qualifies this example as "point to point" – RedOculus Feb 10 '17 at 20:18
  • They're arms. They can move in all axes at the same time as needed, just like we can. You're applying logic of entry-level 21st century Earth robotics to a race of advanced, futuristic cybernetic beings. Doesn't make sense! – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 11 '17 at 0:36

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