Electronic Design

R2-D2, Where Are You? Try Indianapolis

From April 21 to 24, sci-fi fans and EEs alike will descend on the Indianapolis Convention Center for Star Wars Celebration III. And more than a few robots should be joining them.

The members of the R2-D2 Builders, an international group of hobbyists, have built their own working models of the incomparable astromech from the popular movies. So far, none of these robots have saved the galaxy. But they can move, beep, flash their lights, and do just about anything else asked of them by their builders.

Members of the club will be bringing their robots to the convention. On top of that, they plan to compete in the inaugural DroidYard 500. The builders will pit their creations against each other in a series of obstacle-course races. Elimination rounds will be held over the duration of the convention, with a grueling final race on Sunday.

"Currently we have 58 builders signed up to attend," says Jason Smith, the U.S. leader of the group. "And we have at least 59 different droids we can display, with more being completed every day."

The competition will take place under the eyes of Don Bies, the senior model builder and chief R2-D2 operator at Industrial Light and Magic, Lucasfilm's special effects division. In fact, Bies just completed work with the droid on the set of Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, hitting theaters next month.

R2-D2 Builders Club

Star Wars Celebration III

See associated figure

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