The real article is in Italian and there is a link to it from my link, but this pretty interesting..
"Real" R2D2 made in italy
A prototype of R2D2 has been built by researchers at the university of Pisa. It will be presented in Livorno today (May 19th) during the presentation of Episode III.
It's somehow taller (1.5 mt) but walks (with 2 or 3 legs) and beeps like the original, and flees from people holding light sabres! Oh, and comes with bluetooth and usb.
The robot actually is the resulting prototype of a research project in creating a kind of slave or companion robot with a friendly interface. What's best than a worldwide icon that in 28 years of honored service ingnited the imagination of at least two generations?
In the mind of the researchers, this kind of robots could be used in to be used in museums, hospitals, or maybe even at home. The budget for the whole thing was about 50k euros.
Link from Repubblica