Robotics are slowly becoming the norm in real life, with humanoid robots and AI drones continually being announced. One minor complaint fans have is that none of these robots ever look as cool as the droids in Star Wars or other sci-fi franchises, and one expert believes that they never will.
Star Wars is wrong about robots
Speaking with Space.com, robotics expert Robin Murphy explains how she quite likes Star Wars, viewing the franchise as something akin to B-movie serials from the ‘30s and ‘40s. There are Star Wars fans who take the franchise too seriously, particularly recently, so it’s refreshing to see someone appreciate the franchise’s goofy side.
“I put "Star Wars" into the best of the B-movie serials of the '30s and '40s. I'm not looking for any fidelity in anything technical with this,” explains Murphy. “The only thing we're missing is Flash Gordon and Emperor Ming. I loved how in The Mandalorian and "The Book of Boba Fett we now have Dune's sandworms with the Krayt dragon. Star Wars is a wonderful throwback, so the rules are different.”
However, when it comes to the robotics science of Star Wars, Murphy feels that the franchise has it all wrong. While she does admit that Star Wars isn’t trying to be a robotics documentary, Murphy does feel that the franchise just isn’t getting it right. Apparently, having robots put in the same roles as humans isn’t possible, though she admits that its a ton of fun.
“But it's pretty hard to think of what they're getting right in terms of technical things. And I don't want "Star Wars" to be a robot documentary, but it's definitely not how you would do it,” claims Murphy. “First off, they're putting robots in for what people do. That never works. It never has — never in the history of automation — and it's really bizarre.”
One of Murphy’s biggest bugbears is the fact that only some droids speak in actual languages. The ones that do speak can do it flawlessly with no issues, but others speak in droid speak. (Yes, for some reason some people understand the beeps and hoops, and Anakin even speaks it!)
“We have teaching robots, yet we have R2-D2 that can understand human speech but can't generate human speech, even though right now, Siri can generate human speech but has a heck of a time understanding context. So it's the exact opposite. Oh, it's fun, and I love it — but there's nothing right about it.”
Don’t take Star Wars too seriously
Murphy’s criticisms aside, the robotics expert does admit that she can enjoy Star Wars without putting on her professor’s hat. Like most nerds, she enjoyed The Mandalorian on Disney+ and is a big fan of Baby Yoda, later known as Grogu. It’s a totally fair opinion to have of Star Wars, a very silly series with space wizards.
“Oh, heck yes; it's so wonderful,” Murphy says. "The Mandalorian" was so good. More Baby Yoda! And IG-11 is totally unrealistic in almost every possible dimension there is, but what a great story arc.”
Fans who don’t mind some silliness in their Star Wars should totally check out the fairly good and very silly Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+. Yeah, it has soldiers who can’t catch little girls, but it also has Obi-Wan fighting Darth Vader.