Back when Star Wars first hit the scene in the mid-’70s, robotic droids like C-3PO and R2-D2 were the stuff of science-fiction fantasy; but as we plunge ever deeper into the 21st century, Star Wars‘ droids are looking more and more plausible. Wired recently got NASA roboticist Brett Kennedy to weigh in on how close we are to creating real Star Wars droids, and which ones he thought would actually be useful in our spacefaring future.
The winner seems to be R2-D2. Kennedy unequivocally said we can build an R2-D2 now, and seemed to be pretty positive about the usefulness of a repair droid like R2. Apparently, we’re also quite close to making a C-3PO. We now have humanoid-style robots with movement more advanced than C-3PO, and current computers could easily handle his translating duties. Of course, we don’t have computers with actual sentience and sassy personalities yet, but let’s not fool ourselves, it’s not far away.
Sadly, the big loser is the adorable The Force Awakens newcomer, BB-8. According to Kennedy, rolling around on a ball just wouldn’t work very well on anything but flat surfaces. Also, what exactly does BB-8 even do? In all likeliness, BB-8 would probably be left out of any space mission, except for maybe as a cute mascot.
So, there you are, R2-D2 and C-3PO are the droids you’re looking for, but BB-8 isn’t. Sorry, ball droid fans. You can’t argue with science.