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(Pocket-lint) - Sphero, the company behind BB-8 and other robots has created its own fully programmable version of R2-D2 from the Star Wars films.

Pocket-lint has previewed the new Droid ahead of its official launch. Is this the Droid you're looking for?

R2-D2 Droid hardware


RD-D2 it is you, it is you #sphero #starwars #droid #robots #forcefriday #lastjedi #newhope @pocketlintcom

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Unlike BB-8 and BB-9E which are spherical in their design, R2-D2 instead takes on the familiar shape of the movies complete with those three legs, rotating head, blinking LED lights, and beeps and burps he's famous for. He certainly looks the part, if not a little clean than we've been used to seeing him the films.

With tracks on his feet rather than wheels, he should be able to play nicely on thick carpet, although at this stage we've only been able to play on hard surfaces and very thin "office" carpet. Both of which gave us no problems.

Sadly, the Droid hardware hasn't stretched to a holographic projector, a strange move considering we've seen them in cheap Star Wars toys in toy stores for years. Maybe this is a hidden feature waiting to be turned on?

Not surprisingly given R2-D2s design, he isn't waterproof like BB-8.

When it comes to capturing R2-D2s personality, Sphero has got it spot on complete with a number of gestures and noises that really bring R2-D2 to life. We especially like the scared freeze and then fall over move as seen in a Star Wars: A New Hope.

R2-D2 Droid app

Pocket-lintSphero R2-D2 image 11

Artoo uses the now standard Droid app from Sphero giving you an easy way to control the Droid. Connecting via Bluetooth, the app, which is available on both iOS and Android (we were demoed it on an iPhone) lets you wireless control R2-D2 without wires.

There are a number of ways to control the Droid. You can use an onscreen d-pad which has been vastly improved over the original outing for the BB-8 in 2015, via a number of pre-determined moves including being scared, or drawing with your finger where you want Artoo to go.

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Beyond controlling the Droid, you'll also be able to explore a virtual Millennium Falcon with what Sphero are calling a pseudo Augmented Reality experience - R2 stays stationary during this process - or sit and watch Force Awakens, New Hope, and Rogue One with R2-D2 pitching in along the way.

The other Star Wars movies are coming shortly including The Last Jedi when it comes to the small screen. The system cleverly works by listening in to the movie as you watch it, and previous experiences with BB-8 and Force Awaken were good fun, especially for kids.

Beyond the dedicated Star Wars Sphero Droid app, R2-D2 works with the edu programming system to be used in schools and Apple is due to launch a dedicated Swift Playground version of its app especially designed to work with this Droid. We've not yet played with either.

First Impressions

We found that R2-D2 was a lot easier to control than the BB-8 and BB-9E Droids (although they aren't too difficult) and comes with a much greater nostalgia value for older users. R2-D2 is the best Droid isn't he?

Bottom line is that like C3-PO we found Artoo to be a very cool Droid indeed. We laughed out loud when he threw himself on the floor.

Slightly pricier than the BB-8 and BB-9E models, R2-D2 will come in at £179.99 in the UK, and we suspect for many, this will be the Droid they are looking for when the excitement of The Last Jedi finally arrives in December.  

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 1 September 2017.