A droid is a fictional robot possessing some degree of artificial intelligence in the Star Wars science-fiction franchise. Coined by special effects artist John Stears, the term is a clipped form of "android", a word originally reserved for robots designed to look and act like a human. The word "droid" has been a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd since 1977.
The franchise, which began with the 1977 film Star Wars, features a variety of droids designed to perform specific functions.
A protocol droid specializes in translation, etiquette and cultural customs, and is typically humanoid in appearance. The most notable example is C-3PO, introduced in Star Wars and featured in all sequels and prequels.4-LOM is a protocol droid turned bounty hunter who responds to Darth Vader's call to capture the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back (1980).TC-14 is a droid with feminine programming that appears in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), and ME-8D9 is an "ancient protocol droid of unknown manufacture" that resides and works as a translator at Maz Kanata's castle on Takodana in the 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
An astromech droid is one of a series of "versatile utility robots generally used for the maintenance and repair of starships and related technology". These small droids usually possess "a variety of tool-tipped appendages that are stowed in recessed compartments".R2-D2 is an astromech droid introduced in 1977's Star Wars and featured in all subsequent films. The malfunctioning droid R5-D4 also makes a brief appearance in Star Wars.U9-C4 is a timid droid sent on a mission with D-Squad, an all-droid special unit in Star Wars: The Clone Wars,C1-10P is an oft-repaired, "outmoded" astromech who is one of the Star Wars Rebels regular characters, and BB-8 is the astromech droid of X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens.
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A battle droid is a class of military robot used as an easily controlled alternative to human soldiers, most notably seen in the Star Wars prequel trilogy of films and the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series, in which 'B1' and 'B2' models are frequent antagonists. Due to their ubiquity, the terms 'B1' and 'battle droid' are used interchangeably; 'B2' models are also referred to as 'super' battle droids.
The tall, thin B1 model resembles the Geonosian species, who designed the droids, and are known to "suffer programming glitches that manifest as personality quirks." The droideka is a three-legged heavy infantry unit with twin blasters and the ability to generate a force shield and transform into a disk shape. Multiple other types of specialized battle droids have been featured in the Star Wars fictional universe.
During the production of The Empire Strikes Back, Joe Johnston drew storyboard panels influenced by Dan O'Bannon and Moebius's short comic "The Long Tomorrow" (1975), one of which repurposes a pose Johnston admitted he borrowed from said work. The same panel of the comic features a robot design by Moebius, which may have been the basis of the probe droid (or "probot") design that concept designers Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie created for the film.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars has featured WAC-47, a "pit droid" programmed as a pilot and sent on a mission with the all-droid special unit D-Squad, and AZI-3, a medical droid serving the cloners of Kamino who helps uncover the secret of Order 66. The 2015 young adult novel Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry introduces the droid PZ-4CO, to whom Leia Organa dictates her memoirs. PZ-4CO also appears in The Force Awakens (2015). In the 2016 film Rogue One, K-2SO is an Imperial enforcer droid reprogrammed by the Rebel Alliance.
Droids are performed using a variety of methods, including robotics, actors inside costumes (in one case, on stilts), and computer animation.
Lucasfilm registered "droid" as a trademark in 1977. The term "Droid" has been used by Verizon Wireless under licence from Lucasfilm, for their line of smartphones based on the Android operating system. Motorola's late-2009 Google Android-based cell phone is called the Droid. This line of phone has been expanded to include other Android-based phones released under Verizon, including the HTC Droid Eris, the HTC Droid Incredible, Motorola Droid X, Motorola Droid 2, and Motorola Droid Pro. The term was also used for the Lucasfilm projects EditDroid, a non-linear editing system, and SoundDroid, an early digital audio workstation.