The BB unit was a model of astromech droid active during the era of the First Order–Resistance conflict which featured a domed head, similar to that of an R2 series astromech droid, mounted on a spherical body. Like earlier astromechs, the BB unit could fit into the droid socket of a starfighter. One notable BB unit was BB-8, owned by Poe Dameron, who assisted with the recovery of a map to Luke Skywalker.
The BB unit was an astromech droid. Powered by a selenium drive, these droids had an internal orbiculate motor which allowed their spherical bodies to roll across a variety of terrain, keeping their domed heads fixed on top with magnetic casters. Rather than keeping the head tethered by a single contact point, wireless telemetry allowed the two sections of the droid to communicate. The internal gyroscopic propulsion system was self-correcting, and surface sensors on the spherical body allowed the droid to travel across uneven environments such as deserts, with the benefit of its shell being sealed from dust contamination. For areas that proved too difficult for the orbiculate motor to traverse, BB units were equipped with compressed liquid cable launchers that could tether and reel the droid in to hard-to-reach spots. As the droid's body faced in all directions at all times, it needed only to accelerate rather than turn.
The droid's domed head was composed of a lightweight cranial frame featuring a large, round primary photoreceptor and a smaller articulated holoprojector array. The droid's sensors featured advanced calibrated synthetic optics. Transmitter and receiver antennae extended from the top of the head, and data ports were located above a band of stainless inoxium girding the bottom of the dome. The BB's dense shell featured six swappable circular tool-bay disks that could be fitted with numerous forms of equipment, such as a magnetic-tipped bolt-spinner.
BB units possessed a dedicated, grid-focused personality, and were protected by self-preservation protocols. However, it was known for some experienced droids to create strong loyalty subprograms that saw them enter into dangerous situations in order to assist their masters and owners. The droids communicated via droidspeak variants of the most common astromech language. BB units also possessed a thermal hyperscan vindicator.
The concept of a droid capable of rolling on a spherical body was utilized with prototype therapy droids such as QT-9, who saw service assisting New Republic veterans on Hosnian Prime following the Battle of Endor. This knee-high droid rolled on a blue-and-gold body with a square head balanced on top.
The BB unit saw service during the latter years of the New Republic, and some were utilized by General Leia Organa's Resistance. This unit was considered a new-model astromech as of the time of the Attack on Tuanul in 34 ABY. Like the older and larger astromech models that preceded it, the BB unit was compatible with the astromech socket of starfighters such as the T-70 X-wing fighter, and was equipped to control on-board flight and power distribution systems. BB-8 served as the trusty companion of Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, who fostered deep respect for his droid companion and kept BB-8's systems and components up-to-date and well maintained. Although the droid's self-preservation protocols made the droid somewhat skittish and easily frightened, his experiences created a strong loyalty subprogram that caused BB-8 to follow Dameron into numerous dangerous situations.
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