Design & SimulationJune 1, 2022

Bringing a ‘Star Wars’ droid to life with the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab

Avatar Patrick Ball
3DEXPERIENCE Lab member OpenR2 wants to bring R2D2 to life as an autonomous robot.
OpenR2, an open-source R2 builders community, is part of the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab.

It seems Princess Leia Organa, like Star Wars fans, has always had a soft spot for droids.

One of the highlights of the premiere of new Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi is the relationship between a pint-sized Princess Leia and her toy drone Lo-LA59, better known as “Lola.” It’s the latest in a well-established line of human-droid friendships from the Star Wars universe – from Poe and BB-8 to Han Solo and C-3PO to an older Leia and the icon itself, R2-D2.

Star Wars fans first met R2-D2 in the first movie’s first scene, when Leia uploaded a message into the droid’s memory drive and sent him off in search of Obi-Wan. Since then, we’ve seen everyone’s favorite android pal around with everyone from Anakin to Luke to C-3PO, but R2 always had a soft spot for Leia … and we’ve always had a soft spot for him.

Since that first appearance a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, R2-D2 has captured the imaginations of millions of fans. One of those fans was Robert Jackson, who founded the Open R2 club, an open-source R2 builders community with the dream of turning fan-made replica props into a real, autonomous R2D2.

Joining forces with the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab

Over the years, Jackson built a community around OpenR2, including a core team of highly qualified professionals with expertise in design, engineering, systems engineering, product management and robotics. The original Facebook group grew to more than 3,600 members. Recently, OpenR2 became a part of the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab.

The journey to get here was its own kind of Kessel Run. For 15 to 20 years prior to joining the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab, Jackson gathered an archive of information about original props and materials. From original versions of blueprints to behind-the-scenes photographs to interviews with original team members, he worked toward a goal of collecting enough archive material to understand how a specific version of the original R2D2 existed in 1976. Except only with one important change: all of the remote control electronics would be swapped out with fully autonomous GPU based on embedded systems and machine learning.

Today, makers, experts, engineers, designers, scientists, educators and curious and passionate minds eager to learn robotics through the Star Wars universe and create their own replica robots of R2-D2 are welcome to join the community. To promote the light side of the Foce (and have a positive impact on society), OpenR2’s 3DEXPERIENCE Lab promise is to ensure inclusive, equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

OpenR2 is a member of the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab
‘A New Hope’ for R2D2: 3DEXPERIENCE Lab member OpenR2 wants to bring the iconic droid to life as an autonomous robot using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

With the community on the 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud platform, OpenR2’s international collaborative teams are able to work together using a common database. The state-of-the-art variant/configuration engine allows users to capture configurations and variants of each prop going scene-by-scene and movie-by-movie. And they’re using CATIA’s best-in-class kinematic and dynastics engine to solve the challenges inherent in the prop R2D2’s original design.

By openly sharing knowledge and know-how about 3D and engineering, the OpenR2 community on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is an exciting way to connect the dots between the virtual and real world … and to bring an iconic Star Wars mascot to life. The Force is strong with these ones.

The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab is Dassault Systèmes’ open innovation laboratory designed to nurture and empower disruptive projects. Learn more about OpenR2 and the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab.

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