Do you happen to own a remote controlled R2D2 or BB-8? Well, chances are that the purchase of your favorite Star Wars droid helped the toymaker behind it pivot into the military and police robot space!
Company Six will create products “designed to deliver a lightweight, yet highly advanced robotic solution that provides critical awareness for those we depend on the most, including police, fire, EMT, military, and others with dangerous jobs,” according to the release.
On its website, Sphero itself as the “the leading robotics and educational STEAM company,” with a homepage featuring children playing with toy guitars and magnetic blocks. This new company, by contrast, says it will work “to commercialize intelligent robots and AI-based software applications for first responders, government, defense, and those who work in dangerous situations.”
An interesting note: Sphero’s press release mentions the word “dangerous” (as in: situations, jobs, environments) more than half a dozen times.
So, perhaps a spin-off was necessary.
As for how important the toy company was to the creation of this new robotics firm, the press release states that Company Six’s products will be created “by applying the experience used to bring more than 4 million robots to market at Sphero.”
Back in 2018, Sphero actually stopped making its remote controlled Star Wars toys after its licensing deal with Disney ran out.
At the time, The Verge noted that the R2D2 and BB-8 droids resembled “small, wheeled robots outfitted with cameras” that other robotic firms are currently making. With some extra work to make these devices sturdier and better suited for the situation, they could seemingly perform reconnaissance or surveillance tasks.
According to the company, former Sphero COO Jim Booth will make the move to Company Six as its new CEO. Sphero’s former CEO Paul Berberian will now serve as chairman of both Sphero and Company Six. The press release mentions that both men have served in the military.
Perhaps Sphero finally found the droids they were looking for. They just happen to be police and military robots.