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This NASA Roboticist Says Star Wars Droid BB-8 Has Design Flaws. How Dare — !

Brett Kennedy, NASA roboticist, has a lot of thoughts about whether or not Star Wars droids like R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8 would actually work, according to what he knows about robotics and physics. Unfortunately, BB-8 turned out to be the least well-designed of the three, at least according to Kennedy’s analysis.

BB-8 has no design flaws in our hearts, of course — but apparently those round surfaces, particularly the single spherical wheel, would make it hard for the droid to move on any surface that isn’t perfectly flat. Admittedly, I’m having trouble picturing how BB-8 would get out of a ditch, unless the robotic hero of The Force Awakens has some sort of hidden jumping mechanism that we don’t yet know about.

In contrast, R2-D2’s functionality and design actually resemble some real-life engineering robots — and even C-3PO bears some similarity to actual robot designs as well. Kennedy also points out that a lot of C-3PO’s capabilities, such as language translation and directions, can be found in smartphones today. In other words, my iPhone is a protocol droid, except of course it lacks the humanoid spine articulation that C-3PO has down pat. I hope Apple is working on that.

(via Uproxx)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (