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U of A researcher takes on questions about BB-8

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Posted at 4:02 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 18:02:46-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The latest 'Star Wars' installment is bringing back some of the series most iconic characters. But, we are also expecting some new stars - including one beach-ball shaped robot named BB-8.
 
That character is drawing up interest at the University of Arizona, where they have started up a series called "Star Wars Science," where staff in the Research and Discovery Department are using their expertise to answer questions about the film franchise. One associate professor decided to weigh-in on the latest robot to make its big screen debut, telling KGUN9 - he thinks robot has evolved from its previous co-stars. 
 
"In terms of rugged terrain, it's just great because you're not stuck... on rocks, crevasses, cracks - things like that," said Wolfgang Fink. Fink is an associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering departments at the U of A. 
 
Fink said BB-8 is designed to function across all planets with ease. 
 
"You can just roll over it, so there's a lot of advantages to it," Fink explained.
 
However, he also said - there are already robots out there designed like BB-8 right now. 
 
"They're basically like big beach balls which have sensors on the inside," Fink said. "And they simply just float on a surface of a planet driven by wind."
 
But, in the new 'Star Wars' film, Fink thinks that BB-8 will take on a whole new persona that is much different than his previous co-stars. 
 
"I think BB-8 gets it's personality because of the head which is bobbing up and down on top of the actual body," Fink described. "So, if that head wasn't there - it was just the ball - you wouldn't relate to it."
 
When it comes to becoming a 'Star Wars' star, however, like the other famous robots... 
 
"R2-D2 and C3PO are the true stars of the whole entire Star Wars, in my opinion," Fink laughed.