BB-8 is arguably one of my favorite adorable little astromech droids in the Starwars universe (Sorry R2D2). Ever wonder how BB-8 works? I had spent some good time drawing up an exploded view of BB-8 in all it’s engineering glory. Have a peek into what makes him tick, courtesy of yours truly! (click the image below for a full-sized version).
At the center of BB-8 core is an omnidirectional drive unit which always stays upright (or in any orientation BB-8 wants to lean in). This Omni drive unit sits in BB-8 core which rotates an encompassing hemisphere housing a variety of droid repair tools (i.e. called the tools Hemisphere). This hemisphere is part of the first layer hollow sphere contains a “swiss army style” array of interface arms, manipulators essential for droid functions. These hemispheres are bolted on with protective tough durasteel external paneling, giving BB-8 traction when rolling on steel surfaces and loose sand, courtesy of 4 internal omnidirectional threaded wheels. This serves as the droid’s main mode of locomotion by rotation of this entire spherical body assembly.
Inside the omnidirectional drive unit is BB-8 primary power source (Central power unit) and IMU unit housing secondary Gyros which stays upright and does not rotate with the spherical body assembly when BB-8 moves. BB-8 head is kept upright courtesy of this IMU unit mentioned earlier, this is “fastened” to the body through superconducting levitators (i.e a kind of superconducting magnet) which does not interfere or induces parasitic currents through the tool hemispheres. This makes it an ideal method to attach and keep BB-8 head up with a minimal clearances from his body, as well as serve as a wireless mode of power transmission to feed the power-hungry Intellex computer located in BB-8’s head.
There is alot going up in BB-8’s head, it too has it’s own IMU unit which knows it’s orientation with respect to it’s body. The head is also not tethered to the body using wires and is powered by induction, allowing full 360 rotation along the superconducting Levitator axis. The Intellex Computer is a battle-proven piece of hardware which compliments the combat starfighters. A variety of visual, audio and electromagnetic sensors also reside in BB-8’s cranium allowing him to detect and identify with his surroundings even without a line of sight.
Feel free to share this! And may the force awakens! 🙂