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7 Star Wars technologies you did not know existed

29 Dec 2015  | Michael Heflin

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Editor's Note: Have you ever wondered when we are going to be able to develop those high-tech gadgets and machines from the Star Wars series? Surprisingly, some of these technologies already exist today. Michael Heflin will show you seven examples of these fascinating equipment and machineries inspired by the brilliant mind of George Lucas. Sorry, no lightsaber though.

Everyone has been caught up in the Star Wars hype surrounding the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Of course, any good discussion of "The Force" in an office full of engineers leads to how a lightsaber would work in real life or how many times we dreamed about building R2D2 in our childhood garages.

Many people would assume that none of the wild gadgets dreamed up by George Lucas and the gang would exist in real life, but we've taken a closer look. There are at least seven examples of existing technology that can be found throughout the series.

1. Vertical takeoff

When Luke jumps in his T-16 Skyhopper, he doesn't need a runway to show boat the capability of the craft. Just fire up the rockets and go. Although not a common occurrence on your local Delta Connection flight, vertical takeoffs are in fact a very established process and considered routine for crafts like the Harrier Jet.

2. Human-like robots

While C-3PO might have been the first android to capture our imaginations with artificial intelligence, the AI and robotics industries have come a long way to make human-like robots more than a movie stunt. Here, Wired introduces Erica, Jules, Kurokawa and Philip K. Dick.

3. Laser cannons

Many of the sweet rides in Star Wars come standard equipped with some capacity of laser cannon weaponry. But Soulless One, Slave I, Police Gunships and Attack Shuttles aren't as far away from reality as you might think. The U.S. Navy designed and manufactured a fully operational LaWs laser cannon, with capabilities to blow up both aerial and sea targets:

4. Neural controlled prosthetics

Luke and Anakin were able to keep the battle of good and evil going (and ticket sales increasing), thanks to Mechno-Arms, which allowed them to replace the hands and arms so frequently lost to lightsaber blades. Although prosthetic limbs have been around for a long time, check out how close DARPA comes to Star Wars' version in its arm and hand controlled by the brain here.

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