Robot/prosthetic arms in movies - would they really let you lift heavy objects?

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Sluis Van Shipyards

Legendary Member
I've thought about this every time I've watched a movie or played a game where the character has a robot or prosthetic arm. (Deus Ex, the Winter Soldier, Darth Vader, Altered Carbon) They show the characters lifting a person up or another heavy object and throwing them. Now even if you consider that they attached it directly to the character's skeleton, would the rest of the body allow them to do that or would the arm just rip off the body? It seems to me like the rest of the body couldn't support the weight and then stress of throwing the person/object. The writers act like the arm is a self contained mechanism, but the body would still have to support it even if it was capable of lifting that weight. Obviously we're not supposed to think about it, but it just doesn't seem like it would work without a very solid support.
 

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Usagi Pilgrim

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I've thought about this every time I've watched a movie or played a game where the character has a robot or prosthetic arm. (Deus Ex, the Winter Soldier, Darth Vader, Altered Carbon) They show the characters lifting a person up or another heavy object and throwing them. Now even if you consider that they attached it directly to the character's skeleton, would the rest of the body allow them to do that or would the arm just rip off the body? It seems to me like the rest of the body couldn't support the weight and then stress of throwing the person/object. The writers act like the arm is a self contained mechanism, but the body would still have to support it even if it was capable of lifting that weight. Obviously we're not supposed to think about it, but it just doesn't seem like it would work without a very solid support.
You're absolutely right!

I'm an amputee (right BKA), & although I have a non-robotic, state of the art prosthetic, any weakness in my body would totally negate any advantage that the prosthetic would give me.

As you also pointed out, if I had a prosthetic capable of kicking a one ton boulder, that leg would have to be anchored to something that boulder wouldn't be able to move to have the base for the leg to push off from.

I'd have to say, that IMO, tech not withstanding, I, ROBOT probably has a pretty 'realistic' depiction of how an arm like that would be. Using it as a shield, having incredible grip strength, etc, would be totally plausible. Maybe even throwing something that weighs less than the person an incredible distance or with incredible force, but to, say, catch a car that was thrown at the person, no way.
 

joberg

Master Member
You're right: the body-mechanic is based on angles, pullies and primary, secondary, tertiary muscles and tendons. So if you lift something heavy with your "Bionic Arm" will your traps, shoulders, abs, back and legs be able to withstand the forces and the weight? Nope!
Unless an exoskeleton is attached to your entire body...but that's another topic of discussion ;)
 

tcsmit29

Sr Member
The only in-universe explanation that I can think of for the characters you name is for Darth Vader. Vader could be holding the guy with his hand, but using the force to help pick up and throw the weight?? Possibly. I used to think similar things when I would watch Roger Moore's Bond movies and see Jaws bite through metal. Totally ridiculous.
 

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AJTaliesen

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Movies don't understand anchoring in general. The one I always notice is when a character jumps straight up in the air then kicks a villain (sometimes multiple villains) and villain goes flying backwards while hero doesn't get pushed back by the contact. It's the same rules of physics that apply to armor/shielding: as long as the armor/shield/fridge isn't destroyed then everything inside of it will be completely unmoved.
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Legendary Member
The only in-universe explanation that I can think of for the characters you name is for Darth Vader. Vader could be holding the guy with his hand, but using the force to help pick up and throw the weight?? Possibly. I used to think similar things when I would watch Roger Moore's Bond movies and see Jaws bite through metal. Totally ridiculous.

Vader makes some sense though because he does have robot legs to help anchor him. It would be just depending on how much torso he still has. I don't know if it was reinforced in any way or not.
 

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