In The Force Awakens, we see BB-8 stop on each step as he descends a staircase following Rey as she goes to

Luke Skywalker's light sabre in the basement of Maz Kanata's tavern.

BB-8 literally stops as he lands on each step before starting again to move down to the step below it.

We also see him race and then stop on flat surfaces.

What documentation exists in the Star Wars literature or scripts or interviews of writer's, etc to explain how BB-8 stops himself when he is moving? I imagine that his hardware includes a gyroscope and an accelerometer to measure his movement. But how does he stop himself from falling down the stairs when his instruments tell him he is descending? Or stop himself from rolling onward after he reaches a destination?

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    Inertial Dampers... – 11.01.11 Dec 29 '15 at 4:26
  • No canon info as far as I'm aware – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 29 '15 at 4:28
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    @CodeMed I suggest you do some Googling. BB-8 in the movie production is a fully functional robotic prop - barring sentient intelligence, it actually works on Earth. So if you're looking for information on its mechanical design, real world technology has the answer you seek. It's not fiction lol – thegreatjedi Dec 29 '15 at 5:03
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    If it can accelerate on the surface, then it can certainly decelerate. The physics are the same, just in the opposite direction. So long as the internal wheels are able to grip the inner surface, then it can counter the rotational momentum. And so long as the external surface can grip the floor, the robot can stop. – Lèse majesté Dec 29 '15 at 7:00
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    @JaneS - now I'm imagining that scene from OfficeSpace... where they destroy office computers and stuff ... With BB-8 – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 8 '16 at 4:57

As I've mentioned in the comments, BB-8 is a real robot invented on planet Earth in the Milky Way galaxy in the present day. With regards to its technical capabilities, a couple fans have done some research and dedicated a whole website to the subject. Since there is little to no CGI used for BB-8, all of its movements in the movie should be fully functional and achievable using real-world tech alone.

In-universe, the main technological advancements that can be possible while having functionally equivalent mechanical performance to what we already witness in reality would include miniaturization, better power systems, smarter programming etc. The generally non-mechanical stuff.

  • Thank you and +1. Your link says 2 inner wheels cause BB-8's main ball to roll. There is a counter weight to keep the wheels on the floor side and a ball bearing to press the wheels against the inside of the ball. Another user's comments above give insight into general deceleration. We guess that the reason BB-8 stops at each step is to avoid uncontrollable acceleration down multiple steps. – CodeMed Dec 29 '15 at 7:20
  • @CodeMed Earlier in the movie's production, I had already heard of the company Sphero mentioned in the website, though I thought it was known that their tech will be used in BB-8 as opposed to mere rumour and speculation. Also, you may want to research more on the patents made for BB-8's tech. – thegreatjedi Dec 29 '15 at 7:24
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    It’s great that there’s a website explaining BB-8, but Stack Exchange answers ideally include the actual answer to the question in them, rather than just a link. – Paul D. Waite Dec 29 '15 at 11:07
  • +1 for 'is a real robot invented on planet Earth in the Milky Way galaxy in the present day'. How does it work... physics. – user20155 Dec 29 '15 at 11:51
  • @PaulD.Waite well I chose to defer on a detailed answer because that involves going into mechanical engineering details (which I'm not educated in) and research into a few patents made (I'm not American so idk what I am capable of digging up). Overall, I feel that an answer to this question, if answered completely and self-contained, will require technical knowledge not available to the layman (and an answer length equivalent to a script for a lecture speech). Better to provide some useful starting points to do your own research in this case to the level of detail you seek imo. – thegreatjedi Dec 30 '15 at 1:11

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