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Star Wars BB-8 spherical droid comes to life [VIDEO]

The rolling robot is creating a frenzy among franchise fanatics.


September 8, 2015
by PLANT Staff.

PHOTO: SPHERO

PHOTO: SPHERO

Star Wars fanatics already antsy about the arrival of the latest instalment, ‘The Force Awakens,’ from the iconic intergalactic film franchise can now get their hands on some new toys from the upcoming movie.

Particular attention has been paid to the BB-8 droid because of the super-cool way it rolls around. A king of updated, sphreical version of R2-D2, the little round droid attracted a whole lot of curiosity after its first appearance in teasers and trailers for the new J.J. Abrams directed film. Abrams also revealed that the robot was indeed a real, working machine and wasn’t computer-generated.

But how does it work?

The toys are produced by Sphero, a “connected-toy” company that took part in Disney’s startup accelerator last year. The company already produces a line of smartphone-enabled rolling robots, and was tasked with producing a miniaturized version of the spherical droid for the retail market.

The robotic ball, which will retail for $149, uses a gyroscope to determine which way is down and two wheels to move the sphere from inside. The base plat, which includes the batteries, serves as a counterweight to keep the wheels acting against the lower half of the sphere. A vertical bearing keeps the wheels in contact with the walls.

The Sphero BB-8 offers a 30-meter (98-ft) range and 60 minutes of battery life between charges. It can set off to explore autonomously or users can take command with an accompanying smartphone app, which is even equipped with an option to record “holographic” videos for playback through the app. It is also voice-controlled and comes with its own inductive charging cradle.

And that floating head? This is actually the cool part, but it’s also held up pretty tight wraps. Interestingly enough, Disney’s Imagineering R&D group filed the patent for the design in 2010, two years before it acquired the Star Wars franchise and four years before it invested in Sphero.

Check out the video below from the Denver Post to see the little guy in action.

And if the BB-8 doesn’t tickle your fancy, how does your very own Millenium Falcon drone sound? Check it out from Mashable below.

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