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How would robocop handle emp?

  1. Oct 20, 2016 #1
    You know how electromagnetic pulses take care of precious circuitry? Well I wonder something. In the future when humans replace body parts for "better" cybernetic ones, and suppose one big part of these people have gone full robocop, how would they handle emp? Would they use some sort of magnetic field to protect themselves?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 20, 2016 #1


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    Shielding against an EMP can only be accomplished by enclosing a device completely within a cage or box composed of a conductive material. For example, military hardware is shielded by enclosing the device in metal containers, cages, or full-blown metal buildings. There can be no cracks or gaps in the shielding and any incoming power/electrical connections are routed into a bank of specialized surge protectors (for a facility this would be a huge bank of inductors and capacitors) to keep induced voltages and currents out.

    On the small scale, this would mean that the cybernetics would weigh more than they would otherwise thanks to the additional weight of the shielding, and would likely be more complicated and costly than non-shielded cybernetics.

    Of course, it's very unlikely that cybernetics would be shielded against strong EMP's. Extremely strong EMP's are produced only by high-altitude nuclear detonation. Minor EMP's can be produced by various electronic devices and typically just add a brief burst of noise to the electronics (such as the static that can be heard on a radio when the ignition on an old car kicks in). Shielding against these would be much simpler, as the shielding can probably be made much thinner or only installed in certain critical areas, if it's needed at all.
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  5. Oct 20, 2016 #2


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    I've had EMPs do spooky things.

    My TV turned on in the middle of the night.
    My car started up in the middle of the night. (Full disclosure: it had a remote starter)

    These events are immediately preceded by an electric streetcar sparking as it rumbles past, just 20 yards away.

    (Those are EMPS, right?)
  6. Oct 20, 2016 #3


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    I believe so.
  7. Oct 21, 2016 #4
    is there some sort of "counter" action possible rather than passive shielding?

    like detecting polarity and frequency of a em pulse and matching it in a controled maner to negate effects or something like that?

    or trying to alter the properties of the imeadiate surrounds, to block emp effect, similar to chaff for radar
  8. Oct 21, 2016 #5


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    Not really. The problem is that RF radiation likes to spread out everywhere, diffract around corners or obstacles, and do all sorts of nasty things that make it very, very difficult to protect against when at very high intensities. Anything short of completely enclosing an electronic device in a protective enclosing will not work unless the incoming radiation is already at a low intensity. I worked in an EMP shielded facility. To enter, you had to open a large, heavy door composed of a conductor. All around the edge sits a metallic mesh gasket and there are thin copper "fingers", perhaps a half-inch wide, inset into a groove in the door that slide into place on both sides of the raised edge of the doorframe when the door closes. If even a couple of these fingers are missing or broken then the EMP hardness of the entire facility is compromised.

    High intensity radiation is also difficult to defeat using active means. Imagine this as an analogous situation to noise-cancelling headphones. The problem is that the ear only receives sound from a single direction which is easily blocked off by the headphones. Incoming sound waves can easily be canceled out by the speakers. To do the same thing with RF radiation requires that you already have an elaborate setup in-place surrounding the electronic device, and that setup is undoubtedly more expensive and complicated than passive shielding. And that's assuming you could cancel the incoming EM waves out in this manner in the first place, which is certainly not a guarantee in anything but the most controlled conditions.
  9. Oct 21, 2016 #6
    jumping into the realm of fiction, would a forcefield generator type device be able to shield against emp
    or would it short out the device (or whatever happens)

    cause in sci-fi, im sure theres instances of both, probably occurring in the same referant material no less

    i guess the main thought would be, in proper RL physics, could some form of energy work, or must it be physical object

    also, a thought, since were talking cyborgs,... lets say we're faced with a emp grenade,
    is that something that, if you know its incomming, you could simply run/jump out of the way?
  10. Oct 21, 2016 #7


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    Energy is not a "thing", so it can't do anything itself. There must be an object or field to actually interact with something.

    In fiction you can do anything you'd like!

    Depends on the delay before it goes off, the yield, and various other factors.
  11. Oct 21, 2016 #8
    Don't think it would go well for Robocop if he was attacked by an EMP weapon. To reference a couple other works of fiction on the subject....
    This sort of thing was why Darth Vader never got into summoning Force lightning.
    I'm guessing Robocop would fare about as well as the Borg did when their organic components were dissolved in First Contact.
  12. Oct 21, 2016 #9
    Hmm, it turns out you should realy think twice before cutting your own legs and arms for cybernetic improvements. Not that I intended on do so, well, maybe such thought did in fact crossed my mind. This automatically leads to the scientific fact, that Ultron, the daleks, the cybermen, the terminators, Darth Vader, all those cyber-creatures are pretty vulnerable compared to men.
  13. Oct 21, 2016 #10
    i think one thing we may have overlooked with robocop in particular, is the threat detecton and targeting assist

    again lets say were talking a emp grenade, we should assume that any manufactured weapon should be able to be identified
    and if you can shoot it dead like some regular grenades
    that the cyber enhanced reaction time he should have no problems shooting them dead and following up with a
    incapacitating shot to prevent for grenades for being lobbed

    and in the case of a IED various visual enhancements should allow him to analyse the object (and detect it if its a trap)
    learn it capabilities, predict trigger method, and trajectory (if launcher) (shrapnel would still be unknown)

    so as long as you have enough threat detection upgrades, you should be able to just say "oh crap theres emp"
    and avoid it altogether, or deal with it from an appropiate distance

    which is why if your a hunter, or being hunted, ideally youd want short range, and long range capabilities
    ie; hand gun and sniper, or since cyborg, rebar (javlins) and strategic yield explosives (throwable) for corner shot or further penetration
  14. Oct 22, 2016 #11
    That's interesting because many people believe that the future of all intelligent beings is to immortalize themselves by merging with machine, but as it turns out everything has its weaknesses. I mean, if you're cyborg being hunted with emp grenades, technology may allow you to posses reactions simmilar to those of the Flash(talking about fiction :D) and shoot the grenade away. However, one titanic solar storm could end millions of people.
  15. Oct 22, 2016 #12


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    I'm not sure that qualifies as a "weakness". More like merely "not totally invulnerable".

    In general, one titanic {insert anything here} could end millions of people.

    Flesh and blood is still a lot more fragile than machinery and circuitry, in almost any way you care to measure. That's why we're increasingly using machinery and circuitry to enhance us.
  16. Oct 22, 2016 #13


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    Depends on what the failsafe is.
  17. Oct 23, 2016 #14
    As far as i know, radar, radio communication definitally vulnerable. Interior systems can be well shielded. Optical sensors are between that two.
  18. Oct 24, 2016 #15
    I speculate for my story, that the average robotic soldier either robust, resistant vs EMP attack and other hazards (in space environments, cosmic rays can also damage sensitive electronics for example) or intelligent, so usually the operators are in the range of laser communications.
  19. Oct 24, 2016 #16


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    Vulnerable, but not completely so. The proper precautions can protect even these kinds of devices.
  20. Oct 24, 2016 #17
    Over voltage protection and similar things of course exists. On the other hand, based on your previous post, defending against a serious threat also not that easy to wrap some thin metal around an object.
    I intend to write that EMP used to disrupt communications, stop (maybe blow up with direct hit of EMP grenade) civilan vehicles, take out really light recon drones, fight against wall-hack radars (superior radar technology grant an advantage to one side) generally make advanced battle drones more expensive, to give more role to humans.
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