Fully Charged: Sphero made the amazing Star Wars droid, and Google nearly bought Tesla

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Sphero’s Star Wars droid

The amazing new BB-8 droid seen in the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer? Much as some thought it was CG, it’s actually a practical effect, as seen by the robot rolling onto the stage at Star Wars Celebration last week. And turns out it was made by Sphero, the company behind the cool phone-controlled rolling balls.

Now Sphero is working to bring that same experience into your home with a consumer version of the BB-8, which looks to have the same “floating head” design atop the rolling ball. A retail listing for the device was pulled shortly after being spotted, but it included the photo above and listed the connected toy at US$150 (£100).

No word yet on a release date, but Sphero confirmed the project with a teaser page and a press release stating, “You can own a piece of the movie, have it in your home, and relive an experience that is authentic to the entertainment on the screen," according to Rob Maigret, chief creative officer.

[Sources: Sphero, Gizmodo]

UPDATE: Sphero reached out to let us know that the above image isn't a photo of the real connected toy, so it's likely a fan image. We're looking forward to seeing the real thing in action, and will share any legitimate images when available.

Tesla almost sold to Google

Back in early 2013, before Tesla Motors had corralled enough buzz around its electric cars to make its share prices soar, CEO Elon Musk (pictured) brokered an ill-fated deal to sell the company to Google, reports Bloomberg.

According to the story, which is excerpted from a new biography on the tech leader, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Musk reached out to friend and Google CEO Larry Page about acquiring the company for US$6 billion (about £4 billion) as Tesla was running out of funds. Part of his demands were that Google provide another US$5 billion in funding to continue development, and keep Musk in charge for eight years - or at least until the third-gen vehicle (the upcoming Model III) hit the market.

Musk and Page had a handshake deal, and formal negotiations continued for weeks, but then Tesla rebounded: costs were cut, sales increased, and its share price ultimately doubled. Tesla no longer needed the deal to stay afloat, so negotiations were halted. And that’s that. Just an interesting look at what could’ve been - and sure to generate speculation on what a Google-powered electric car would’ve looked like.

[Source: Bloomberg]

New Fantastic Four trailer

It was hard to get a read for the new Fantastic Four reboot from the earlier trailer, which had a very moody, Christopher Nolan-like sense to it. But the second trailer, just released this weekend, looks a little more fun, and shows a lot more of the familiar Marvel superheroes in their Fantastic forms.

Director Josh Trank’s previous film, the low-budget Chronicle, had a lot of heart and character, so there’s reason to believe this Fantastic Four has a chance to be strong. Here’s hoping, at least. It hits cinemas on 7 August, with a sequel already dated for 9 June 2017.

[Source: YouTube]