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Background

A common staple in science fiction is the idea that we can augment humans by replacing limbs with mechanical substitutions that enable superhuman feats - weightlifter like strength in a slender incognito package, invisibility, Bruce Lee speed reflexes, etc. None of this is implausible at all since we currently make prosthetic implants, and it's only a matter of time until the technology and power of these prosthesis exceeds the capabilities of their natural parts.

Problem

Most implants that exist today require relatively little power since their capabilities are very limited. But when it comes to a cyber arm that can punch through walls, the need for more energy (of any type) will be higher.

Questions

  • Assuming that an augmented person has 2 cyber arms and 2 cyber legs that enables him to jump a 6 feet (1.8 m) wall easily without using his hands. He can also lift and carry a 650lb (300 kg) vending machine with his arms. How much higher would his short term and long term energy needs be?

  • Is the human body capable of covering these energy deficits by regular biological methods (burning fats, consuming carbohydrates and sugars, ATP production, etc.) and increased food intake?

  • Are there scientifically viable methods of inserting a power supply into a human that would …

    • provide enough energy to power these augments if the body isn't capable of doing so normally

    • or reduce the need for increased food consumption?

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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget to replace his spine, the arms might take it, but the back can't. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Feb 26 '16 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ Presumably his skeleton between the arms and legs is also reinforced to support that weight? $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 26 '16 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ Good point. For the sake of convenience, I think it would be safe to assume that his entire skeleton is modified to take the stress added by use of stronger limbs. IIRC Adam Jensen had something like that in HR. $\endgroup$ – Carlos Danger Feb 26 '16 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ How about linking to Adam Jensen? I'm not familiar with that story. (Maybe it's my age, but Steve Austin is the cyborg.) $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Feb 27 '16 at 4:32
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Yes, within reason.

A biological reactor in each implant could be used to take nutrients from the blood and charge on-board power cells. Oxygen could also be removed from the blood for the purpose or just taken in directly by the implants to reduce the load required for that. We already have prototypes that can generate power in a way similar to what is needed.

Bursts of strength would use the batteries to supply power and they are then trickle-charged at a rate the human body can sustain.

This sort of solution would be fine for standard levels of activity and bursts of extreme strength. For endurance events extra batteries could be carried in a backpack and plugged into the cybernetics, or even in some cases directly powered from the mains or a vehicle.

For example in military you might stay plugged into your vehicle up until the moment you deploy just to make sure everything is fully charged including your own system.

Food requirements would be increased, but not dramatically as you don't have organic arms and legs to supply. It's impossible to say by how much as we don't know how efficient these cybernetics will be but considering that in "idle" they could well use less than an organic limb the increase may be smaller than you expect.

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  • $\begingroup$ instead of removing oxygen from blood, it might be interesting if the implant where able to increase the levels of blood oxygen to make the rest of the body more efficient, thus freeing up more energy for the limbs to use. IIRC, atmospheres with high oxygen levels are very good for you (increase metabolism, longer endurance at higher levels of exertion) but has a high risk of damaging the lining of the lungs. $\endgroup$ – Duncan Urquhart Mar 2 '16 at 13:50
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Considering how Human Revolution had Proenergy bars that replenished energy, I suppose some sort of pumped up candy bar could be the delivery method for the digestible fuel.

As an added bonus, at least in-universe, it provides a way to let "augs" take some of the anti-rejection medication (which is a plot point in Deus Ex: Human Revolution) or some additives in reality, say, chemicals that would maintain the augmented skeleton from the absorbed calcium (forgive medical inaccuracies, I'm not a doctor...)

On the complete opposite end, augmentations may very well be more akin to a car being refueled though that seems way less efficient than using the built in energy generation of the human body.

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