Monday, May 4, 2020

6 “Star Wars” Technologies Being Developed

We’re here to look at the science behind Star Wars, and how much of it is realistic, and even being developed today. 

Battle Droids

Droids are a staple of the Star Wars saga. There are the cute ones like R2-D2 and BB-8, the smart-ass ones like Rogue One’s K2SO, and then there are the Terminator-like battle droids that are prominent in the prequel trilogy. As C3-P0’s character famously states, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Maybe we should all have a bad feeling. Robots like, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas is showing incredible athleticism, and the field of robotics, in general, is progressing in leaps and bounds. It’s progressing so much in fact, that thousands of academics, scientists, and engineers have signed a petition as part of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Holographic Displays

One of the most awe-inspiring technologies to appear in the original Star Wars film was the hologram, which played a crucial part in the plot. When Luke Skywalker finds R2-D2, an unprompted holographic message is relayed by the droid from Princess Leia to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Today, we might not have the capability to communicate via hologram images, though we might be getting closer. One example is the “tactile” hologram which was developed by researchers at the School of Engineering and Informatics of the University of Sussex.


Much like with holograms, we are seeing early models being made that might one day be developed into something resembling the technology we see in the Star Wars universe. Models such as the Scorpion 3 and the Lazareth LMV 496 essentially use drone-like propellers to create a hovering effect. This is, of course, a far cry from the type of tech on display in the movies.

Bionic Arms

Another big technology that has played a big part in the story of Luke Skywalker is the bionic arm. In the Empire Strikes Back, Skywalker has his arm cut off by Darth Vader. At the end of the movie, we see him being given a new bionic arm. Bionic prosthetics are a technology that is remarkably close to the movies in real life. Bristol-based prosthetics company Open Bionics creates futuristic-looking bionic arms, which are aimed at making their wearers feel like their heroes from the movies.

Laser Canons

The Death Star is a machine that can destroy planets with a huge laser canon. And laser beams, rather than bullets, are the weapon of choice in the Star Wars movies. The U.S. Army’s ATHENA system, for example, can be used to shoot down drones. In 2017, Lockheed Martin signed a contract with the U.S. Army to develop lasers for fighter jets that could take down missiles and, eventually, other jets. The system could be operational by 2021.

The Lightsaber

The lightsaber — will we ever see the likes of it in real life? Renowned physicist Brian Cox has also had his say, and he thinks it might one day be possible. Professor Cox believes that it is possible through a process called photon-photon scattering, in which photons bounce off of each other at very high energies.

While the technology of Star Wars still mainly lies in people’s dreams — shattered though they may be for some by the new movie — we are living in a world where sci-fi and real-life increasingly converge.

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