Meet The Real Robot of ‘Stars Wars The Force Awakens': BB-8

By Ryan Koss

From R2-D2 to C-3PO, George Lucas and crew have created some of the most dynamic and memorable robotic personalities from here to Endor. As director J.J. Abrams takes the reigns for the latest film, fans are eager to meet the newest droid in the “Star Wars” universe.


The ball droid BB-8 makes an appearance in both Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers. (Image: Walt Disney Studios)

This is the Droid You’re Looking For: Introducing BB-8
Its spherical body and domed head have been seen rolling around the desert in the newest trailers, igniting the curiosity of fans everywhere. However, there is little known about BB-8 at the moment, aside from its soccer-ball-like physique. We do know one thing for certain: BB-8 is real…and awesome.

They never cease to amaze me with what they’re able to come up with…
– Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker)

After seeing BB-8 roll around on the floor in front of him, Mark Hamill (who played Luke Skywalker in the original “Star Wars” trilogy), could not believe his eyes.

“They never cease to amaze me with what they’re able to come up with, you know?” said Hamill. “How are you ever gonna top R2-D2, the most adorable droid in movie history?” To Hamill’s surprise,  BB-8 was not created using CGI, holograms or even models. Instead, BB-8 moves around on its spherical body and is real as can be.

BB-8-star-wars-trading-card
BB-8 made its first appearance in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, while its name was first announced on a digital trading card (meant to look like vintage Star Wars trading cards).
(Image: Entertainment Weekly / Walt Disney Studios)

Futuristic Robot, Made with Today’s Technology
Sphero touts itself as a next-generation game system. But think more along the lines of ball games, instead of a Playstation. As its name implies, Sphero is a robot sphere, and it served as the mechanical basis of BB-8. Sphero was used by Pinewood Studios’ visual effects shop and Disney to design and build BB-8.

Using the same accelerometer and gyroscope technology found in your smartphone, Sphero rolls around just like our favorite new droid, and you control it.


BB-8 makes his public debut at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California.

The Sphero app (available on the App Store & Google Play) and Bluetooth let users control their robots and play games like Sphero Golf, Etch-a-Sketch and more.

If you want to get your hands on one of these cute little ball droids, don’t worry. Disney has teamed up with Sphero to bring the BB-8 to your home later this year. Rob Maiget, Sphero’s Chief Creative Officer, believes, “The expectations of what a toy should be is changing. We’re moving away from cheap disposable plastic to something much greater.”

Design Your Own Robot Droid
Do you want to create your own droid? You can, by harnessing the power of electronics with Arduino. Discover what you can create using circuits, sensors and motors to build your own robot that completes an incredible range of tasks.

Arduino
Arduino’s open-source electronics prototyping platform allows you to create interactive electronic objects.

Although Star Wars: The Force Awakens is months away, summer is right around the corner. Make sure that you learn the skills you need to #createthenext BB-8 droid this summer at Digital Media Academy.