Star Wars Celebration Revealed Exactly How BB-8 Works

Monday, 18 July 2016 - 4:31PM
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Monday, 18 July 2016 - 4:31PM
Star Wars Celebration Revealed Exactly How BB-8 Works
BB-8 has been beloved by Star Wars fans ever since he showed up in the first teaser, and even more so when he was revealed to be an adorable practical effect. But while we've seen the insides of Sphero BB-8 and received step-by-step instructions on building a life-size, functional BB-8, and learned about the design of the lovable droid, we never knew exactly how the real-life model worked. Now, a panel of animatronics experts at Star Wars Celebration has revealed exactly how BB-8 works: there are about eight versions of it.

 

The panelists revealed that the real BB-8 isn't just one BB-8, but a whole bunch of BB-8s. There are specialized versions for different functions, such as a lighter "carrier" version that John Boyega used so BB-8 wouldn't crush him, as well as an especially hardy "stunt" BB-8 that was never used because J.J. Abrams insisted that "BB-8 does his own stunts." But all of them were only partially robotic, and could be revealed as puppets from certain angles; the only fully remote-controlled version was the "wiggler," which could move its head in all directions but wasn't able to move around. 

The only fully functional version of BB-8 is the red carpet version, which was made in only two months by the engineering team, led by Matt Denton and Josh Lee, for the world premiere of The Force Awakens. Other than that, the BB-8 model works pretty much as expected. The head is kept on the rolling body by magnets attached to a pendulum, and BB-8 was able to move as a result of algorithms that programmed the droid to move "forward" in the direction the head is facing.

Or, you could just accept that he's magic and watch him play with puppies:

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