C-3PO and R2-D2 are synonymous with Star Wars but there's a new bot on the block. Get the scoop on BB-8 in our latest Double Helix magazine.

The BB-8 robot from Star Wars is a ball with a round head

BB-8, the latest Star Wars droid, is on a roll

BB-8, the latest Star Wars droid, is on a roll.

The meddling C-3PO and mischievous R2-D2 droids are synonymous with Star Wars. These friendly and helpful robots stole our hearts in the original films, and had us wishing for a future where we could have one of our own. And thanks to the latest previews and media hype, we know there’s a new bot on the block in the latest episode of Star Wars, coming soon to cinemas.

BB-8, a spherical droid that rolls to move around, is already getting fans excited about the new movie. But it’s not just cute. Rolling robots have a lot going for them: a sphere is a very robust shape, so it can survive a lot of damage.

Robots from the Star Wars movies come in different shapes and sizes, and so do robots in the real world. Let’s meet some of the real and movie reel robots that feature in the latest edition of Double Helix.

Brilliant bots

In Star Wars, C-3PO is the walking, talking, translating droid. Creating machines that can walk is quite a challenge. Legs might be handy for stepping over small obstacles, even if they aren’t all that fancy when you trip and fall flat on your robot face. One of the most popular walking robots in real life is Honda’s ASIMO, which can run and jump.

Plenty of others roll on wheels, including our rather brilliant museum robot.

The robot has a motorised base with wheels, a touch-screen display, and a ‘head’ that is a 360-degree panoramic camera. It also houses several on-board computers and Wi-Fi antennas. The robot accompanies an educator around the museum, applying its navigational and sensing capabilities to plan its route and avoid obstacles and pedestrians.

Life savers

A fork lift-like robot carrying a vat of hot metal

Our autonomous hot metal carrier does the heavy lifting for you

Our autonomous hot metal carrier does the heavy lifting for you.

R2-D2 is a helpful droid in the movies and is often saving people’s lives. Our Guardian Technologies are also about saving lives, but they do it by using lightweight machines to make potentially dangerous tasks safer and easier.

Working with hot metal can be unpredictable and dangerous so we’ve created autonomous vehicles that operate with little or no human intervention. The autonomous hot metal carrier is capable of conducting all of the operations of a manned vehicle, as well as being able to monitor and manage its own hardware and software, and respond intelligently in the event of any issues or problems it may face.

Double Helix, our science magazine for kids and teens, has scored the ultimate scoop on this new droid to hit the big screen: an interview with the founder of Sphero, designers of the technology behind BB-8. To meet more robots and explore the technology behind BB-8, subscribe to Double Helix magazine before 1 December.

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Competition closes Thursday 3 December 2015. Winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email.

Star Wars, C-3PO, R2-D2, BB-8 and droid are all subject to copyright and are trademarks of Lucasfilm Ltd.