NASA Roboticist Says BB-8 Isn't Designed as Well as R2-D2 or C-3PO

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 - 4:52PM
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Tuesday, 08 December 2015 - 4:52PM
NASA Roboticist Says BB-8 Isn't Designed as Well as R2-D2 or C-3PO
NASA roboticist Brett Kennedy claims that the physics of BB-8 "just doesn't work out," which is blasphemy. Luckily, he compares him to R2-D2 and C-3PO, both of whom he claims are much closer to robots we would build in real life:



BB-8 is everyone's favorite new Star Wars character, but because he's cute, not necessarily because he looks functional. Kennedy explains that the rolling mechanism would only work on flat terrain; just as the droid has been affectionately named the "soccer ball droid," he would probably be about as versatile as a soccer ball.

Opening quote
"Looking at BB-8, I can say that the physics doesn't follow particularly well," Kennedy says in the video. "Trying to roll up and over anything is extremely difficult. If you only have one wheel, then you're sort of stuck, and if you don't have enough height, the physics just doesn't work out."
Closing quote

By contrast, R2-D2 is much more realistic. In the thirty years since Star Wars: A New Hope came out, R-2 has become a reality, as Kennedy claims that "we can build an R2 today." To some extent, we already have, he explains, since "even when they're shooting these scenes, they're building a semi-robotic system to do that in the first place."

He goes on to say that C-3PO might be the most similar to robots NASA would use, and that he resembles humanoid robots produced by NASA mixed with the artificial intelligence we have on our phones. In fact, on a purely physical level, he is less advanced than some of NASA's robots, like the Robonaut and the Valkyrie. The only exception would be his spinal movement, which is a flexibility we have yet to imitate in our humanoid robots. 

That's all very well and good, but can R2-D2 and C-3PO play with puppies as well as BB-8 can? I think not.



Via The Mary Sue.
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