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BB-8 is shown going down stairs at least once in the film

on Takodana, following Rey into the basement, sort of clunking down step-by-step

but there are a few scenes that cut away right before the little guy would have to go up stairs

like right before entering Maz Kanata's castle.

Is there a canon explanation of how he goes up stairs?

I can't locate it right now, but I read a quote from one of the designers (in an answer about the droid's gender) that mentioned having to think about how BB-8 goes up and down stairs as an extension of defining gender, but didn't see a mention of how the droid accomplishes it.

Does it have to do with those cables he uses for steeper ascents?

to clarify: I'm looking for a canon explanation of how BB-8 ascends stairs, under the assumption that it likely differs from how he descends them.

  • 1
    she can "roll" up stairs just fine if she has some way to get traction; which she must have because she can roll across sand. Maybe she uses the Force. – KutuluMike Dec 26 '15 at 0:17
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    Same way as the Daleks, probably. – Rand al'Thor Dec 26 '15 at 1:55
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    I'm also assuming that if the irl BB-8 puppet could ascend stairs in any sort of elegant way, they would have shown it in the film, because everyone's so proud of that amazing engineering. So the answer likely lies in in-universe technologies.... – dunraven Dec 26 '15 at 3:28
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    @SS-pi As you can see in DVK's answer below, BB is assigned he/his pronouns in the novelization (unfortunately - also why do astromech droids need a binary gender definition?) – dunraven Dec 26 '15 at 6:37
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    momentum transfer is a plausible physical mechanism by which it may jump up stairs. youtube.com/watch?v=n_6p-1J551Y – John Meacham Apr 12 '16 at 6:51
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How? Struggling. According to novelization.

The Novelization definitely doesn't explain it in any detail. All it says is:

“Why are we here again?” he asked as they started up a wide, curving stone staircase. (followed by zero details)

And later, in the basement:

There was a stairway there: ancient stonework leading downward. Perceiving her unease, BB-8 asked what was wrong.
“I don’t know. I—I have to see.” She started down the stairway. Struggling, the droid followed.

I also didn't find anything useful in Visual Dictionary, so the present answer seems to be "Don't know" in canon.


Out of universe, all we know is that they carefully considered the question during production. In "Droid Dreams: How Neal Scanlan and the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Team Brought BB-8 to Life" they say:

“BB-8 can cock his head over and look away, he can double take, he can look scared, he can look angry,” says Herring. “We managed to find a whole vocabulary of movement for him, if you will. We worked out a whole bunch of stuff. What would he do if you turned him off? What happens to his head if you power him down? Does he go down stairs? Does he go up stairs?” Finally, BB-8 was ready for his audition.

Yet again, they don't elaborate on "how"


Side note: may be sort of irrelevant to the real question, but presumably, for really tough stairs, indoors, BB-8 can use its "Compressed liquid cable launchers" described in Visual Dictionary - like the ones it used inside Millenium Falcon when it was doing barrel rolls.

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    Nice citations, but the "struggling" seems to describe the stair descent we actually get to see in the film (which looks slow but not terrible). Any word on how the cables attach to walls? Is it destructive? – dunraven Dec 26 '15 at 1:10
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    @dunraven - well, since the film AND novelization both show that he didn't use the cables on those stairs, we know the cables are NOT the only way. As far as how they attach to the walls - feel free to ask that as a separate question and I'll try to see if canon answer exists – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 26 '15 at 1:46
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    I guess the question is very specifically about going up stairs because we know how he goes down them, which is a different mechanism, and the film goes to some lengths to avoid showing him going up any... – dunraven Dec 26 '15 at 2:35
  • @dunraven - presumably, he went up the same stairs from the basement.... but we don't know how. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 26 '15 at 2:49
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    exactly! I'm hoping someone related to his creation or some other canon source has mentioned how he goes up them, since designers have admitted in interviews to considering how he goes up stairs, but haven't mentioned the how... – dunraven Dec 26 '15 at 3:03
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Easy Answer. Assuming that BB8 is very smart, which he is. He shoots up a cable and pull himself up to climb the stairs. Remember when he was in the Millennium Falcon rolling around and can't stabilize himself... He shoots out cables to hang on. Haha.. funny BB8.

  • welcome to sci-fi exchange! We usually prefer answers that cite sources more than rely on speculation. Is there some source to your answer you can add? – Ram Oct 9 '16 at 3:41

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