Whether or not you’re a fan of the franchise that’s driven people crazy since the 70’s, there is no way you can’t be wowed by some of the modern inventions that actually exist right now. They were once thought of as things of science fiction, of advanced alien technology but now they are sitting on our front doorsteps, with some even being used by the military right now.
Maybe you want your own R2-D2 robot, some amazingly awesome gadgets or you just want to see some kick-a** tech come to fruition for the sake of being entertained. We aren’t on the verge of making real lightsabers or using the force to manipulate the laws of physics but trust me, this list is still pretty amazing. No one would have guessed that humans could have achieved this kind of tech when the first Star Wars film was released.
10) Speeder Bikes
Episode VI of Star Wars featured the awesomely cool hover bike chase through the forests of Endor, but many of us never believed that such a thing could exist in our lifetimes. Well, it’s time to start saving your money in preparation for the Aerofex Hover Bike.
The hover bike has mainly been used as a platform for testing new drone designs for carrying cargo. Currently, it is being tested at a top speed of 30mph and a height of 15 feet off of the ground. You can visit the Aerofex website right now though, and secure a production position so that the second that these bad boys are released to the masses you can nab one.
9) Laser Canons
One thing comes to mind here, and that is the Death Star. I’ll tell you now that we don’t have one of these up and running, however the US Navy has spent the past 6 years and approximately $40 million on producing the Laser Weapons Systems (or LaWS).
Its ammunition is not loaded rounds but pure energy, and while the Navy hasn’t stated how much energy is contained in a single round, it is estimated to be less than 100KW. This isn’t enough to bring down a jet, however the LaWS has been successful in destroying surveillance drones and fast moving attack boats with its own on-board targeting system.
It has already been deployed to waters near the Middle East, and it definitely looks as if once developed further, the LaWS will be a lasting weapon on cruisers, destroyers and anything else that can carry it.
8) Floating Probe Droids
Obviously, droids were everywhere in Star Wars, no matter what movie you watched. One in particular, the probe droid seen on the planet Hoth in Episode V seems to have stuck in the memory of many because of its long, ominous tentacle-like appendages.
Well thanks to a company called the MLB Company, along with funding from DARPA, there now exists a surveillance drone known as the V-Bat with a 6 foot extending claw, bearing some similarity to this particular Star Wars droid. The V-Bat has the ability to operate autonomously, hover in place while examining an environment, and fly at a speed like a normal plane to altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and for 10 hours at a time.
It’s been a dream come true for many die hard science and tech fans, because ever since Princess Leia sent her hologram message to Obi-Wan in Episode IV, we haven’t stopped dreaming of the possibilities of 3D holograms.
In 2012 at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Tupac Shakur’s likeness was brought back to life with a hologram on stage, to which Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre performed alongside of. Another amazing example comes from Digital Nature Group in Japan, who are now able to create small holograms that simply float in the air and that you can feel when you touch them.
6) Bionic Hands
If there is one thing that happens in each and every one of the Star Wars films, it’s people having limbs cut off by lightsabers. No biggy though, because in those movies they could attach a robotic prosthetic, giving them feeling, dexterity and no real handicap.
Well nowadays we have something like that too, where a bionic prosthetic hand can be connected to your nervous system and able to give you a sense of touch, as well as controlling the amount of force exerted in a grip. This was the case for a man from Denmark who, 9 years after losing his left hand, was offered to be part of a research trial where doctors successfully connected a bionic hand to the nerves in his arms.
It may still be some time before you’re having conversations with your robot in your lounge as they do your house work for you, but a number of scientific groups around the world are developing robots who can think independently, use human body language and mimic the ways in which we act to appear more like us.
Some names to look out for are Hiroshi Ishiguro with Uncanny Valley robotics, Hanson Robotics Inc. Kokoro and Japan’s AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) who are all making amazing progress towards perfecting the human qualities of robots.
4) Magnetic Levitation
Okay, so it’s not a new thing for us anymore to have things like trains run by strong electromagnets that make them virtually “levitate”, but what is cool is what we can do with these inventions. Referred to as MagLev, it has been featured in many Star Wars movies, particularly used by Vader in mines and transportation.
Today, one of the fastest MagLev trains in existence has been built by China, running from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai all over the city and outside. The fastest speed that it hits while carrying passengers is 430 km/h, but it could go even faster.
3) Heads-Up Navigational Displays
On the war ships, in the Tie-Fighters and X-Wings, almost everywhere you look there are heads up displays on everything with a user interface. One easy example in everyday life would be the Google Glass, a set of glasses with interactive displays in the lens’ that can connect to your phone or computer for a hands free alternative.
The other example is the use of HUD in cars, with your speed and driving information as well as the directions to your destination being displayed right in your field of vision, meaning less time looking away from the road while driving and adding a futuristic feel.
2) Lightsaber (Sort Of)
While we do have laser weapons, for now, science can’t produce lightsabers as we know them in the movies. What people CAN produce right now though, looks awesome and is actually not far away from the real thing.
A man by the name of Allen, who has a YouTube channel called Sufficiently Advanced, was able to make a butane propelled flame thrower using methanol and acetone as fuel, along with a realistic lightsaber handle. Its blue flame resembles a lightsaber’s blade and gives a few of us hope that one day we may be able to wield one.
1) Tractor Beams
Yes, we now have tractor beams which can levitate objects and move them freely in the air. A recent scientific study was able to produce an acoustic tractor beam, which generates precise sound waves in order to manipulate high and low pressure areas around the targeted object. It was only done on a very small scale but proves that they are possible.
This has also been done on water, where physicists from the Australian National University were able to generate waves that could move an object back and forth at will.