R2-D2 finally got competition as the token adorable droid of the Star Wars universe after BB-8 debuted on the first trailer for the new Force Awakens movie. Doing Artoo one better, though, the new robotic mascot won’t just get toys that resemble its likeness – it’s going to get one that mirrors some of its functionality, too, in the form of the Sphero BB-8.
That’s right, the company that makes those smart robot balls partnered with Disney to build a real-life version of the rolling and tumbling Star Wars automaton. And it’s glorious, performing many of the tricks we’ve seen the movie version do in a smaller package, at least based on the trailers released so far.
Like the robot from The Force Awakens, the Sphero BB-8 can roll and balance all by itself, while its head stays in place (well, close to it anyway) the entire time. When paired with the accompanying app, the toy can be remotely controlled, allowing you to manage its movement and direction (yeah, I can see it now – BB-8 head-to-head battles). It can be given free rein to explore your home autonomously like a pet robot just randomly walking around, perform a series of pre-programmed movements that you can trigger with a tap, or even receive voice commands. Since we don’t have real holographic tech yet, the app uses augmented reality to superimpose a holographic projection from the app, in conjunction with your phone’s camera.