Sphero already made a blast in 2015 with the miniature version of BB-8, first appearing in “The Force Awakens” movie. In this 2017 fall, they strike back with two extra cute miniature Star Wars droids: R2D2 and BB-9E, all controllable using a smartphone app, via Bluetooth.
Miniature Lifelike R2D2
The Sphero’s R2D2 is taller than the BB-8. It’s capable of rotating its head, wiggling its three legs, spinning, blinking and beeping just like the actual Star Wars character (see Video 1). The makers went into a lot of details to make the droid very lifelike. Beside the painting, the sounds come from the robot itself. One can easily replicate scenes from the movie thanks to preset chirps and movements such as spinning or falling over. These are smoothly performed on hard floors (wood or tile). But, the micro R2 will struggle on carpets, especially thick ones.
BB-9E the Dark Droid
The BB-9E is a new character from the Star Wars film “The Last Jedi” that will be released on December 2017. This menacing astromech droid of the First Order is basically a black version of BB-8 with a red eye, and a flat dome (see Video 2). The dark design makes it ideal to play the role of the villain, as in the Video 3 below. Except for the appearance, extra sensors make the BB-9E and the other droids better at recognizing each other. So, when they are in the same room they react to each other.
Train Your Droid
The other characteristics of the BB-9E are pretty the same as the ones of BB-8. The body is water resistant, but be careful to keep the dome totally dry. The charging is done wirelessly using a provided dock powered by a USB-C cable. A new accessory called the “Droid Trainer” has been introduced. It’s a special base that allows the robot to spin in place. The Droid Trainer allows playing Augmented Reality games provided on your phone.
New App Features
All three droids share the same app. Upon startup, the app scans available droids, and let the user pick the one to play with. A new fun feature is called “Watch With Me” allows augmenting the Star Wars movies. While watching, the droids react to events occurring on the screen. This includes cheering when the Jedi knights win or express fear when the Sith strike.
Learn Programming the Droids
Last, Sphero’s droids can also be programmed using Apple’s Swift Playgrounds on an iPad.
Video 1: Sphero R2D2 Demo by the Sphero Founder Adam Wilson
Video 2: BB-9E Review
Video 3: These Are The Star Wars Droids You’re Looking For: BB-8, BB-9E, and R2D2 by Sphero