When playing around with Sphero’s BB-8 toy, the miniature version of the personality-filled droid from the upcoming movie ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ it’s hard to not feel like it’s made with a little bit of magic. His little head floats atop his body, and he maintains his ability to be upright shockingly well.
But it’s not magic — it’s well-developed science.
There’s been plenty of speculation, based on Sphero’s patents, on how the big robotic BB-8 is able to wobble and look around. So, it’s safe to assume analogous tech is used without pulverizing the miniature.
After all, Sphero was instrumentally involved in creating the tech behind the life-size version of the droid.
But the teardown experts at uBreakiFix decided to dig in to see little BB-8’s skeleton for themselves, and see how close the droid’s insides match with Sphero’s other robots.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen without significant carnage: BB-8 has no easily accessible seams, meaning that they took a rotary tool to break the little guy apart. While it appears torturous on the bot, it should be reassuring for those with small kids or pets: it’s a $150 bot that has very sealed-up mechanics, so he won’t be breaking very easily.
See the video below:
BB-8’s anatomy falls within what they generally expected, based on Sphero’s previous work. He is outfitted with a gyroscope and a counterweight to detect which way is up and to maintain that upright look. He also has wheels that are in constant contact with his shell, which allows him to move around. As for the head, a little magnetized stem that is attached to the base keeps it on and looking around.
While we know now how little BB8’s guts look, it’s unclear if it’s directly analogous to the tech used to make the big BB-8 perform serious movie magic. But we can start making better-educated guesses — and admire Sphero’s work in creating the droid.