During the "Drone" episode, the mobile emitter's technology is used to create a much more advanced drone than what the Borg are currently capable of producing, and they detect this drone and focus extra attention towards obtaining it - Why don't they focus the same amount of attention towards the device that created it?

Before the Drone episode, a plausible explanation is that they simply haven't realized the potential of the device, however this seems unlikely given how adept the Borg are at placing different values on various assimilation targets, combined with the fact that they have scanned the entire ship multiple times.

After the "Drone" episode, do they believe the device is destroyed or unusable somehow? without even bothering to scan again for it?

Another possibility is that perhaps they are simply incapable of assimilating technology that advanced, however that doesn't mean that they can't obtain it and store it for study - or is it no longer worth it if they do that?

It seems I need to clarify the value of this device to the Borg - when the drone One was created using this technology:

As a combined product of 29th century and Borg technology, the new drone possessed several unique features and abilities. These included internal transporter nodes, body armor composed of the same poly-deutonic alloy as used in the mobile emitter, and a multi-spatial personal force field. In essence, it was a 29th century drone, immensely more powerful than 24th century Borg.

Basically it's not just about the holo technology, which may or may not have benefits to the Borg.

  • the borg should already have holotech, and in theory mobile holo tech as its not that much more advanced. they have assimilated starfleet officers as well as whole starfleet ships which would have given them access to this.
    – Himarm
    Nov 25, 2014 at 19:26
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    @Himarm - The very fact that One was able to overpower an entire ship with the advanced technology in his body suggests the mobile emitter contained technology considerably more advanced than what the Borg had. Maybe it included much more advanced computing machinery or fundamental advances in forcefield technology, for example.
    – Hypnosifl
    Nov 25, 2014 at 20:08
  • @Hypnosifl yes this was my fault, i had forgotten that the holo emitter the doctor used was from the future.
    – Himarm
    Nov 25, 2014 at 20:31

5 Answers 5


Let's assume they knew about the emitter and that they knew assimilating it would make them like One.

Why would they want to do that? One was impure. The technology tainted him, changed him to something more. Something feeling. Something they would not want. Perhaps that future technology could be tamed when it is encountered naturally. But at the current state, the Borg would not survive assimilating the mobile emitter. And they know it.

It is also very possible that in the future the Borg will be destroyed. After all, humanity exists in the distant future, they must be able to withstand the Borg in some capacity. Perhaps the transformation that One underwent is the manifestation of one of these defense mechanisms. If tech were created that when assimilated would result in the Borg being tamed and turned into life-loving creatures, that would be a very federation way of coping with them.

It is reasonable that the Borg of the era of Voyager understood the danger after seeing what One became. It could simply have been too much of an unknown for them to pursue further.

  • 1
    If that was true, then why would they attempt to assimilate One, knowing that it would lead to their demise? Nov 25, 2014 at 19:58
  • They didn't know that One was so different until the climax of the episode. It was One's actions that showed the Borg what he had become. When first contacted, One wasn't yet changed. So they were in error at first, and only in the end were they able to understand that.
    – DampeS8N
    Nov 25, 2014 at 20:00
  • Yet at the end One claims that they would continue to attempt to assimilate him - was he wrong? Somehow I think he wouldn't be wrong about such a matter, considering that it is his life at stake. Nov 25, 2014 at 20:01
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    The whole idea of a Borg sacrificing itself for others is totally anathema to what the Borg are as an entity. The Borg, as macro-organism, would be absorbing the ability to make that choice. The choice to sacrifice itself for the well-being of others. That is, it would mean the end of assimilating people.
    – DampeS8N
    Nov 25, 2014 at 20:05
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    One's "difference" was a matter of his having been allowed to develop his individuality apart from the Collective, similar to what happened with Hugh in the TNG episode. So I don't think this is a convincing argument, the Borg presumably would have thought they could either overpower his mind and re-integrate him, or just acquire his technology and create new high-tech drones raised "from birth" to be loyal to the Collective.
    – Hypnosifl
    Nov 26, 2014 at 15:02

Is there any evidence the borg knew about the mobile emitter? Although a mental link was established between the drone "One" and the Borg Collective at the end of the episode, the Borg never succeeded in bending his will to their own (he destroyed the Borg sphere), suggesting that the link was under his control and thus presumably selective. So, it's quite possible that they never accessed the part of his mind with knowledge of how he had come to exist, and thus never knew about the mobile emitter. For all they knew, he could have been a drone who had travelled back from the future.

"One" also allowed himself to die at the end, saying "While I was linked to the Borg I could hear their thoughts, their objectives. They are aware of my existence. They will pursue me ... As long as I exist, you are in danger. All life on Voyager is in danger." So presumably the reason he let himself die was because it would remove the danger somehow--either the Borg would just assume he was destroyed with the sphere, or this was the only way for him to deactivate the "secondary tranceiver" that had been created by his cranial implants, which was sending a "proximity signal" to the Collective. Either way, if the Borg believed he was dead, and detected no trace of him on Voyager in future encounters, they might assume that all the advanced technology that had been in his body was gone as well.

  • Given that 1. The borg scanned voyager multiple times 2. The borg have superior scanning technologies (especially in detecting temporal anomalies, such as the ME), 3. Voyager is capable of scanning & detecting the ME, I find it hardly unlikely that the borg did not detect the ME - although you do have a point as far as perhaps not knowing the exact details about the origins of One, if they knew the timeframe of his technology (which they should be able to do), and the fact that a single device on voyager matches that time-frame exactly... Nov 25, 2014 at 19:55
  • I don't think Borg sensors are fine-grained enough to get detailed information on every little device on a ship, in their first TNG appearance in "Q Who" they sent drones on board the Enterprise to assess various bits of technology up close, after the Borg cube had already "probed" the ship from afar.
    – Hypnosifl
    Nov 25, 2014 at 20:02
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    i also remember that assimilation tubules shot out of the holo emitter. So the holo emitter is now part borg. If they let the borg modifications on the emitter remain any scan would probably reveal the emitter as borg tech which already exist on voyager (seven and the regeneration chambers)
    – tls
    Nov 26, 2014 at 11:55

The Borg was preoccupied with perfection. While it is highly likely they knew that the mobile emitter(ME) was from the future, it is also safe to assume that the emitter did not help them move closer to perfection.

The new borg "One" that was created from the ME was just slightly more advanced than the current borg. Given a few more minutes the borg would have adapted to even his technology. It was the same just slightly stronger.

  • Slightly stronger in the sense that a single drone was stronger than an entire cube.. seems like a large step forward to me. And if that was the case, why the obsession over "One"? why did they focus much more energy on the drone than the source of the technology? Nov 25, 2014 at 19:43
  • He wasn't stronger than the cube, he was stronger than the individual borg he faced. He had to link to the ship and give the command to destroy it. If he was massively more powerful he could have done so remotely at no harm to him.'
    – user28924
    Nov 25, 2014 at 19:46

One pardon the pun explanation is that the borg are unaware of the mobile emitter's existence until One's creation. The borg simply know of One's existence not how his creation happened.

The bigger question is why Borg scans never seem to pick it up from the polaron scan in Scorpion pt1 to Dark Frontier and the Queen's connection to Seven. Almost like Starfleet in the 29th century knew what happened.


The Mobile Emitter is really a light projector.

Within the confines of a Holodeck or a properly equipped Medical Facility with installed Emitters can the Doctor actually interact with the equipment contained within. A Borg Drone would still just be a hologram and as such harmless to a solid individual outside in the 'real' world.

However, the argument could be made to make Scout Drones out of Holograms.

  • you could arguably have an army of holographic drones using the doctors holoemitter armed with real weapons. and set them loose.
    – Himarm
    Nov 25, 2014 at 19:19
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    The mobile emitter isn't just a light projector. It's a mobile force-field emitter allowing the EMH to directly interact with matter outside of the holodeck equipped areas.
    – Valorum
    Nov 25, 2014 at 19:24
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    It's more than a light projector - and as Darkling among others demonstrates, a hologram wearing it is certainly not harmless to individuals in the "real" world. Nov 25, 2014 at 19:47
  • This is very inaccurate. Even Captain Janeway states that Photon emitters are used to allow AI and physical items to interact. Janeway explains this to Kes and Nelix, that while it is light, it is also pure energy and could kill anyone in the wrong hands. The problem the borg have is really a corporeal one. 7 of 9 states it would be pointless to assimilate this Mobile Emitter when you still need a port to consume the data required for assimilation. Otherwise the Doctor would have no need for a tricorder, and Bianca would have thought of that.
    – Virusboy
    Nov 25, 2014 at 21:48
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    @Virusboy B'Elanna
    – Izkata
    Nov 26, 2014 at 3:58

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