Could Star Wars droids be real?

Recreation of a scene from Star Wars A New Hope: Droids R2-D2 and C-3PO escaping the Tantive IV while under Imperial attack. Figures are 6 inch Hasbro Black Series action figures. Photo: Willrow Hood, Bigstock

Are you looking for droids? Well, maybe you’re about to. Star Wars’ iconic robots, R2-D2 and C-3PO, may be more realistic than we could ever have imagined. The recent studies suggest that some of the features of the popular droids are well established in the real world.

As the R&D sectors grow worldwide, scientific and technological areas become more innovative every day. Robots are not just something of the future or something that can only be seen in Sci-Fi movies.

Robot science has evolved significantly to the point where it will soon be possible to have a personal robot. From the robot vacuum cleaner to the lifelike sex robot toys, we can’t help but notice that robots are definitely among us.

Texas A&M University recently conducted a study involving the popular spaceship robots to determine whether having a “personal droid” is within the reach of current technology.

One of the researchers, Robin R. Murphy, discussed whether it is really possible to develop a real robot that would have all the functions and characteristics of the famous droids. She concluded that while Star Wars robots may go just a little beyond current technical capabilities, some realistic features still exist.

Real robots could understand R2-D2

As Murphy outlined, one of the main similarities between current robots and famous droids is the way they communicate, or to put it simply, their language. Most Star Wars droids cannot communicate in pure English, so they use non-verbal communication methods.

RD2 Robot Star Wars
R2-D2. Star Wars character. Photo: Tomasz_Mikolajczyk, Pixabay

Murphy explained that sounds and chirps from droids like BB-8 and R2-D2 can be considered realistic. She stated that the chirping of droids is actually quite similar to real robots in that these non-verbal contextual beeps are said to be their main mode of communication.

These sounds allow robots to express their emotions, because their build prevents them from making facial expressions. Instead, by using different sounds, robots can reveal whether they are happy, excited, or stressed.

Robots still unlikely to move like BB-8

In her research, Murphy compared droids to NASA’s robot – Robonaut, a recently created humanoid robot with arms and effectors, but no legs. She was mainly focused on their movement and how they move. In the hit movie, droids like BB-8 roll around effortlessly on various surfaces, such as sand. In reality that would not be possible.

BB-8.  star wars character
BB-8. Star Wars character. Photo: Joseph Chan, Unsplash

As Murphy explained, BB-8’s adorable rolling across the desert would be as hard as driving on a beach. The wheels would soon be buried in the sand, and most likely the same would happen to a robot — it would eventually spin in place. This theory was proved by Yasemin Ozkan Aydin and Dan Goldman of Georgia Tech. They decided to test their BB-8 toy and its ability to move by placing it on glass particles. The toy was stuck.

Likewise, moving an R2-D2 look-a-like would be complicated. Unless the surface is completely flat, the robot would struggle to get past the bumps, dents and similar obstacles. In other words, this movement would only be possible on a spaceship, which would make this type of robot pretty useless in the real world.

The era of robots is yet to come

While we can’t get a personal droid buddy just yet, the future of robotics looks bright. Movie robots will continue to inspire and guide scientists and engineers in designing and building lifelike robots that can be useful in everyday life, such as utility robots.

Calling Service Bell Hold by Robot
Photo: AndreyPopov, Bigstock

At the moment, people are not quite used to robots yet. Robots are still used in highly controlled environments, mostly factories and assembly lines. In addition, robots are also used for military purposes and special operations.

This is due to their difficulty in quickly adapting and reacting to unexpected situations and interferences. However, over the years there has been an increase in the use of robots, mainly for household cleaning and maintenance purposes in developed countries.


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