Introducing BB-8

BB-8 is in astromech droid that appears on star Wars episode VII - ns Force Awakens. It has a ball shaped body and a domed head that resembles that des the R2 series droids, whose most renowned unit ist R2-D2. BB-8"s human body rolls independently from the head, which constantly stays near ns vertical axis of the droid.

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Like ns R2 series, BB-8 also fits an the droid socket of an X-Wing starfighter. Specifically the T-70 x-Wing fighter model used von the Resistance thirty years after the Battle des Endor. Regardless of what most people thought before ns movie was released, BB-8 zu sein owned über click zu reveal spoilerResistance"s pilot Poe Dameron.

"There to be a last of discussions around how having a CG BB-8 would certainly be so much easier, but we also knew it would be better zum the film, zum the actors, zum the sets, weil das the look des it, if it were performed"-J.J. Abrams


Director J.J. Abrams went old school during production of The force Awakens. Ns original trilogy, which largely used ja wirklich sets and props, had a one-of-a-kind vibe that was missing bei the prequel trilogy. Abrams want Episode VII to feel organic und tactile, closer an spirit to ns original movies. To achieve that, they provided as numerous practical results as possible, and BB-8 was no exception.

The zuerst known sketch von BB-8 was revealed during star Wars celebration 2015. It definitely wasn"t a ralph McQuarrie illustration, but die concept can be his. In in interview with stern Wars Insider, the artist responsible weil das the original trilogy ide art, stated that he originally envisioned R2-D2 as a rolling droid. According kommen sie Episode VII producer kathleen Kennedy, the film crew looked a last at at an early stage concept nett by McQuarrie during pre-production and some unused concepts oase made it to the Force Awakens.

The idea des a rolling robot was cool but complex. Just how do you bring lively a droid like that? CGI would schutz been the logical choice, but J.J. Wanted a echt prop. Ns Pinewood Studios" Creature geschäft took on the challenge und eventually succeeded at building und puppeteering BB-8 an the film.


"I think Artoo was just described together a klein robot. I thought of him as running on a giant ball bearing - nur a sphere, a circle, wheel-like. He had actually gyros deshalb he can go in any direction on this ball."-Ralph McQuarrie


So, exactly how does BB-8 work? What kind of schwarz magic strength it? Well, what us know weil das sure zu sein that it"s notfall driven von a hamster as part theories suggest. Ns closest thing out there ist the Sphero ball, und turns out that Sphero was one des ten start-ups funded über Disney"s erste accelerator program in 2014. Disney CEO roben Iger himself was Sphero"s mentor inside the company. Wie man he learnt about ns filmmakers trying kommen sie build a roll droid, the knew ns right people zum the job.

BB-8 und the Sphero are likely kommen sie share a very comparable internal mechanism. Ns RC robotic ball uses a gyroscope zu determine which way is down und two wheels to move the sphere native inside. The base key (batteries included) serves together a counterweight kommen sie keep the wheels acting against die lower hilfreich of die sphere. There"s also a upright bearing the helps to keep ns wheels in contact with the walls.

But what about the floating head? since that"s actually the jaw-dropping part. There is a patent von Disney"s Imagineering R&D gruppe that sheds some light on ns head mechanism. Surprisingly, die patent was filed in 2010, 2 years prior to Disney gained Lucasfilm and four years before they invested bei Sphero. Looks like lock were right into rolling droids before anyone suspected.

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Note: according to die latest updates indigenous Lucasfilm, Sphero"s technology wasn"t useful to achieve the expressiveness that die character demanded. Therefore the Creature FX designers had to develop their very own mechanism to make BB-8 behave ns way Abrams wanted.



Magnetic spherical balancing robot drive

US 8269447 B2Inventors:Lanny Smoot , Dirk RuikenOriginal Assignee:Disney Enterprises, Inc.


The zuerst thing we schutz learnt native this patent zu sein that there zu sein a concept in robotics dubbed holonomic motion. Ground-based holonomic robots room those who can instantaneously move an any direction top top the scorseses plane. That renders them very responsive. Both die Sphero and our wenig guy BB-8 are holonomic robots.

The patent presents numerous variants von the invention, yet one of them ist suspiciously similar to BB-8. According zu this configuration, die body consists of a drive system that constantly keeps a relative position with respect to die sphere. The system uses omni wheels to make ns sphere roll bei any direction. Each von those wheels ist connected zu a motor. Ns robot uses sensors (gyroscopes and accelerometers) kommen sie determine that position und dynamics. The drive system can be maneuvered making use of a far controller. The base plate acts together a counterweight, keeping die center des gravity near to die ground. That keeps the wheels" traction on the inner shell des the body. So far pretty comparable to die Sphero.

The main difference we discover with die Sphero zu sein the dynamic mast described von the patent. Over there is deshalb a control system that keeps everything an balance, make sure the mast ist always in vertical position. This, if freundin think about it, makes the whole system behave choose a miniature Segway. The arm can rotate and, follow to ns patent, magnetically communicate with an external element. That means BB-8"s head zu sein most likely controlled durch magnetic interaction. Magnets weist the end of ns mast and roller magnets at the base des the head.

Now let"s use some 3D to show how ns inner mechanism des the cutest astromech bei the galaxy can look like.

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Mechanism IMechanism II

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This ist our finest guess based upon how BB-8 behaves on screen. Instead von the upright mast explained on ns patent, this device uses a stool form set-up (based on ns AT-AT fuß mechanics) which allows to freely move a magnet around die upper part von the sphere. We think that ns drive system probably uses four omni wheels with null bearings. Such configuration would certainly allow kommen sie rotate ns sphere in any direction. You tun können drag the modell to lakers different angles of the mechanism.

This solution represents the most spread out theory on ns internet. The zuerst one to sketch it the end was jason Torchinsky. It is the theory that better matches the info from the patent. Ns motorized arm has a spherical share that permits it kommen sie flex in any direction. The head rotation motor ist probably attached zu the end of the mast. Die head itself zu sein probably an extremely light and has magnetic rollers fastened to the base. The would permit it zu smoothly role over the spheric body.