Show Details

Star Wars Robots

March 5, 2018

How realistic are Star Wars’ lovable droids?

Transcript

Real-life robots, like NASA's Robonaut 2 pictured here, are needed to help us explore space. (NASA)

Real-life robots, like NASA’s Robonaut 2 pictured here, are needed to help us explore space. (NASA)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Star Wars robots. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(BB8 sounds from Star Wars)

They may not talk, but robots like Star Wars’ R2D2 and BB8 excel at non-verbal communication.   

ROBIN MURPHY (Texas A&M):

You’ve got the little beeps and whistles. And that little pose that BB8 will get with his head…all of those non-verbal communications are actually very very useful for a robot that’s interacting with people.

HIRSHON:

That’s Texas A&M computer scientist Robin Murphy. She studies how fictional space robots could help inspire real ones. But Murphy writes in the journal Science Robotics that the droids’ other features would be less of an asset. For example, the roly-poly BB8 would actually have a hard time getting around on sand-covered planets.

MURPHY:

If you’ve ever driven a car on sand, you know how your wheels just dig in and get buried.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SCIENCE FICTION AND ROBOTICS