Droid (Star Wars)
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Droid Star Wars
Replica of medical droid 2-1B from Droid Builder's Club Room, with a B1 battle droid in the background.

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",[1] a word originally reserved for robots designed to look and act like a human.[2] The word "droid" has been a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd since 1977.[3][4][5][6]

Behind the scenes

Droids are performed using a variety of methods, including robotics, actors inside costumes (in one case, on stilts),[7] and computer animation.

Trademark

Lucasfilm registered "droid" as a trademark in 1977.[3][4][6] 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.[8] The term was also used for the Lucasfilm projects EditDroid, a non-linear editing system, and SoundDroid, an early digital audio workstation.

The name "Omnidroid" was used with permission of Lucasfilm for the 2004 Pixar movie, The Incredibles.[9]

Fictional types of droids

The franchise, which began with the 1977 film Star Wars, features a variety of droids designed to perform specific functions. According to background material, most droids lack true sentience and are given processing abilities sufficient only to carry out their assigned function. However, over time droids may develop sentience on their own as they accumulate experience. Periodic memory wipes can prevent this from happening, but those who manage to escape this fate will begin to develop their own personalities.[10]

Within the Star Wars universe, a class system is used to categorize different droids depending on their skill-set: first class droids (physical, mathematical and medical sciences), second class droids (engineering and technical sciences), third class droids (social sciences and service functions), fourth class droids (security and military functions), and fifth class droids (menial labor and other non-intelligence functions).[11]

Protocol droid

A protocol droid specializes in translation, etiquette and cultural customs, and is typically humanoid in appearance.[12] Protocol droids are used to aid in communications during diplomatic or business negotiations and often function as personal assistants to their owners. Protocol droids are also used for military service, whether as administrators, couriers or spies. However, they do have a tendency to be eccentric and fussy.[13][14][15]

The most notable example is C-3PO, introduced in Star Wars and featured in all sequels and prequels.[16]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).[17][18]TC-14 is a droid with feminine programming that appears in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999),[19] 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.[20]

Astromech droid

Replicas of astromech droids R5-D4 (left) and R2-D2 (right background), from the April 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California

An astromech droid is one of a series of "versatile utility robots generally used for the maintenance and repair of starships and related technology".[21] These small droids usually possess "a variety of tool-tipped appendages that are stowed in recessed compartments".[21] On certain spacecraft such as X-wing starfighters, astromech droids also double as the ship's navigational system. In addition to assisting with piloting and maintenance, astromech droids work in conjunction with the ship's hyperdrive to plot a safe course when traveling at faster-than-light speeds.[15][22]

R2-D2 is an astromech droid introduced in 1977's Star Wars and featured in all subsequent films.[23] The malfunctioning droid R5-D4 also makes a brief appearance in Star Wars.[24]U9-C4 is a timid droid sent on a mission with D-Squad, an all-droid special unit in Star Wars: The Clone Wars,[25]C1-10P is an oft-repaired, "outmoded" astromech who is one of the Star Wars Rebels regular characters,[26] and BB-8 is the astromech droid of X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens.[27]

Battle droid

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.[28][29] These droids are mainly used as the primary troops of the Confederacy of Independent Systems or Separatist Alliance, acting as the counterpart to the clone troopers of the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars.

The tall, thin B1 model resembles the Geonosian species, whose Baktoid Armor Workshop designed and built the droids for the Trade Federation and later the Separatists. Standing 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) tall, B1 battle droids were given a humanoid appearance so they could operate existing machinery and weaponry, and are meant to be cheaply mass produced in large numbers. During the Battle of Naboo, battle droids were controlled from a central command computer as a cost-saving measure. By the time of the Clone Wars, this drawback was rectified by giving them the capacity for limited independent thought.[30][31][32][33] The B2 super battle droid, introduced in the Battle of Geonosis, was designed by the Techno Union and manufactured by Baktoid as an improvement of the original B1 model. Heavily armored and capable of limited independent thought, it features an integrated dual laser cannon in its right arm.[34][35]

B1 battle droids have been criticized for being ineffective and boring opponents in the Star Wars films, easily destroyed and devoid of any personality. However, Rafael Motamayor of SyFy Wire argues that the 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series rehabilitated their image by giving them distinct personalities. With the in-universe explanation that battle droids were upgraded to have independent thought, battle droids in the series are shown with self-awareness of their cannon fodder nature. This is often used as comic relief as battle droids comment on their tragic situation and even question orders that would get themselves or other battle droids killed.[36]

Beyond the B1 and B2 models, multiple other types of specialized battle droids have been featured in the Star Wars fictional universe.[31][37] The droideka is a three-legged heavy infantry unit designed by the Colicoids, a bloodthirsty insect-like species which it resembles. It is equipped with twin blasters and a deflector shield generator and can transform into its wheel form, allowing the droideka to roll towards the enemy at speeds of up to 75 km/h (47 mph).[38][39][40] Commando droids are superior versions of the B1 battle droid, built sturdier with armor to withstand blaster fire and more advanced combat programming and battlefield awareness.[41] The T-series tactical droids serve as advisors to Separatist commanders or command groups of other battle droids, while super tactical droids serve as generals of droid armies and fleets.[42] Droid vehicles and spacecraft include Vulture droids, Dwarf spider droids and Hailfire droids. After the Clone Wars, the Imperial Senate banned the manufacture of battle droids, but with loopholes for the building of "security" droids. This includes the Imperial military's KX-series of which K-2SO is an example.[14]

Probe droid

Sketch of a probe droid toy, from the US patent documents

Probe droids first appear in The Empire Strikes Back as the Empire deploys thousands of them to locate the hidden Rebel base. They are described as traveling via hyperdrive-equipped pods to almost anywhere in the galaxy in order to search for their target. Also called probots, they are 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in height, floating above the ground on repulsorlifts and propelled by silenced thrusters. Probots are equipped with a variety of sensing equipment, including motion detectors and ultraviolet sensors, a blaster for self-defense, and a HoloNet transceiver to transmit any discoveries to Imperial forces.[14][43]

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.[44] 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.[45]

Other droids

Labor droids are used for a variety of tasks, from the very simple such as lifting heavy objects to the complex such as repairing machinery or administrating entire facilities, though their programming is very task-specific. Examples include mining droids which extract valuable resources, often from hazardous environments, and power droids, mobile fusion reactors which recharge ships, machines and other droids.[46] Interrogation droids utilize a variety of devices, chemicals and techniques to exploit a prisoner's weaknesses in order to extract information from them.[47][48] Assassin droids such as the IG-series act with ruthless efficiency to hunt down their targets; while some serve other masters, others may operate independently.[47][49] Medical droids on the other hand work tirelessly to heal people who have been harmed, whether as medical assistants, midwives or doctors. Many possess an encyclopedic knowledge of different species' physiologies so that patients can be properly diagnosed and treated.[50][51]

List of droid characters

Name Portrayal Description
2-1B Voice: Randy Thom (The Empire Strikes Back), Denny Delk (Revenge of the Sith) Medical droid in The Empire Strikes Back that tends to Luke Skywalker in the bacta tank after the Wampa attack on Hoth, and replaces Luke's hand.[52] A 2-1B droid also serves as medical droid to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, and can be seen in the Star Wars Rebels animated series.[53]
4-LOM Chris Parsons (The Empire Strikes Back) Protocol droid with insectoid features, 4-LOM is among the Bounty Hunters who answer Darth Vader's call to capture the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back.[54] In the Legends continuity it is Jabba the Hutt that upgrades 4-LOM's programming, turning him into a full-fledged bounty hunter, and partners him with fellow bounty hunter Zuckuss.[55] Teaming up for many years, 4-LOM and Zuckuss join the Rebel Alliance for a time, even having aspirations of mastering the Force.[56] 4-LOM would lose these aspirations and affiliations after being badly damaged by Boba Fett and having his memory erased, restoring him to a cold calculating bounty hunter.[55][57] The first 4-LOM action figure was misidentified as "Zuckuss" in Kenner's original Star Wars action figure line.[58]
8D8 N/A Torture droid working for Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi.[54][59] A Kenner action figure was created for this droid during their original Return of the Jedi line.[60]
0-0-0 (a.k.a. Triple-Zero) N/A Protocol droid designed to specialize in etiquette, customs, translation and torture. Structurally similar to C-3PO. An associate of Doctor Aphra and BT-1, the droid is first featured in the Marvel Comics series Star Wars: Darth Vader and is now heavily featured in the ongoing Doctor Aphra series.[61]
AP-5 Voice: Stephen Stanton (Rebels) An RA-7 protocol droid from the Clone Wars, serving with the Galactic Republic as a navigator; later tasked with inventory duties by the Empire, before C1-10P/Chopper encounters him in the Rebels episode "The Forgotten Droid". Acts as a C-3PO-like counterpart to Chopper in Rebel service, and assists Phoenix Squadron in finding a new base on Atollon, before The Bendu forces both Rebels and Imperials off Atollon in the episode "Zero Hour".[62]
AZI-3 Voice: Ben Diskin (The Clone Wars) Medical droid serving the cloners of Kamino who helps uncover the secret of Order 66 in The Clone Wars.[63]
Mister Bones N/A Rebuilt B1 battle droid introduced in Aftermath, serves as loyal--if homicidal--bodyguard to Temmin "Snap" Wexley.[64][65] In the comic Poe Dameron #13, Snap carries Mister Bones' "personality template" with him for good luck, and temporarily loads it into another droid to protect Poe Dameron.[66]
BB-8 Dave Chapman and Brian Herring (puppeteers) (Episodes VII-IX)
Voice: Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz (consultants) (Episodes VII-IX)
Poe Dameron's astromech droid in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. BB-8 has a spherical body with a small head that balances on top, and moves by rolling around.
BB-9E N/A Black plated BB-series astromech droid in the service of the First Order in The Last Jedi.
BD-1 Voice: Ben Burtt (Jedi: Fallen Order) Small droid formerly in the possession of Jedi Master Eno Cordova, who encounters and befriends Cal Kestis on the planet Bogano. After revealing a message from Cordova about a Jedi Holocron containing a list of Force-sensitive children, BD-1 joins Cal in his quest to find the Holocron and hopefully restore the Jedi Order, becoming a member of the Stinger Mantis crew.
BT-1 (a.k.a. Bee-Tee) N/A Astromech droid modified to be a homicidal assassin, with a variety of built-in assault weapons. An associate of Doctor Aphra and 0-0-0, the droid is first featured in the Marvel comic series Star Wars: Darth Vader and is now heavily featured in the ongoing Doctor Aphra series.[61]
C1-10P (a.k.a. "Chopper") Matt Martin (Rogue One)[]
Voice: Dave Filoni (Rebels and Forces of Destiny)
Obsolete-looking astromech droid with a cantankerous, "pranking" form of behavior aboard the rebel freighter Ghost in Star Wars Rebels.[54][67] Chopper later reappears in Rogue One in the Great Temple of Masassi on Yavin 4, and so does the Ghost itself and Hera Syndulla (who is mentioned only as a General of the Rebellion).[]
C-3PO Anthony Daniels (Episodes I-IX and Rogue One)
Voice: Anthony Daniels (The Clone Wars, Rebels, Forces of Destiny and Resistance)
Protocol droid built by Anakin Skywalker who appears in all nine main Star Wars films and Rogue One.[54][68]
CH-33P Voice: Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars) C1-series astromech droid that helps Ahsoka Tano when Order 66 is issued in The Clone Wars. He is destroyed by clone troopers looking to execute Ahsoka.
D-O Voice: J. J. Abrams (The Rise of Skywalker) Small droid previously owned by the Sith mercenary Ochi, who is found and reactivated by BB-8 in his old ship. He is shown to be very excitable and follows BB-8 wherever he goes, wanting to be just like him. He can also speak, although very briefly and stammering.
EV-9D9 Voice: Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi), Mark Hamill (The Mandalorian) Torture droid working in Jabba the Hutt's palace in Return of the Jedi, that assigns roles for R2-D2 and C-3PO during their brief tenure under Jabba's ownership.[54]
FX-7 N/A Medical droid assistant to 2-1B on Hoth.[54] An FX-7 figure was produced for Kenner's Empire Strikes Back action figure line in 1980.[69]
GA-97 Voice: David Acord (The Force Awakens) Servant droid at the castle of Maz Kanata, aligned with the Resistance, that informs them of the missing BB-8's presence at the castle, allowing them to mobilize their forces.
G-G N/A R4 astromech droid that helps Ahsoka Tano when Order 66 is issued in The Clone Wars. He is destroyed by clone troopers looking to execute Ahsoka.
Gonk droid (a.k.a. GNK power droid) Rusty Goffe, Latin Lahr, Jack Purvis, Kenny Baker, Kiran Shah, Raymond Griffiths, Arti Shah, Ivan Manzella
Voice: Ben Burtt
Boxy, rectangular-shaped droid that walks very slowly. It is literally a bipedal, walking power generator. After appearing in the Jawas' sandcrawler in the original 1977 Star Wars film,[54] a "Power Droid" figure was produced for Kenner's Star Wars action figure line in 1978.[70] A Gonk droid is also featured in the "Blood Sisters" episode of Rebels, and Rogue One.[71]
HK-47 Kristoffer Tabori Within the Star Wars Legends continuity, HK-47 is a humanoid soldier robot, designed as a violent killer, which first appeared in the 2003 video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.[72]
IG-11 Voice: Taika Waititi (The Mandalorian) Bounty hunter and assassin droid who briefly teams up with the Mandalorian to find and kill the Child. However, he is then betrayed and destroyed by the Mandalorian, who wanted to retrieve the Child alive. He is later rebuilt and reprogrammed by Kuiil to serve as an ally of the Mandalorian. During the group's fight with Moff Gideon's Imperial Remnant, IG-11 looks after the Child and later treats the Mandalorian when he is injured, before sacrificing himself and activating his self-destruct mechanism to allow the others to escape.
IG-88 Voice: Matthew Wood (Forces of Destiny) Bounty hunter and assassin droid introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, summoned aboard the Executor by Darth Vader in his search for the Millennium Falcon.[54] IG-88 also appears in the Forces of Destiny animated series, attempting to capture Leia Organa and Sabine Wren. In the Legends continuity, there are four IG-88 assassin droids created for Project Phlutdroid by Holowan Laboratories, designated A, B, C and D. IG-88B and C are destroyed by Boba Fett shortly after Vader's bounty on the Millennium Falcon, while D was destroyed by Legends character Dash Rendar on Ord Mantell.[73] The last surviving model, IG-88A, uploads his consciousness into the second Death Star in an attempt to take over all droids in the galaxy, just prior to the Battle of Endor.[74]Ralph McQuarrie's production sketches show a sleeker design than the droid that appears in The Empire Strikes Back and were later used as the model for the IG-RM Thug droids in Star Wars Rebels.[75] The term "IG-88" is not the original name for the character, as the Empire Strikes Back script calls the character a "chrome war droid", and during production it was called "Phlutdroid". The production puppet consisted of recycled props from A New Hope, including the Mos Eisley cantina drink dispenser as IG-88's head.[76]
General Kalani Voice: Gregg Berger (The Clone Wars and Rebels) A Separatist tactical droid who served in the Clone Wars. He led his forces to take over and occupy the planet Onderon. His forces clashed with a band of rebels trained by some Jedi and led by Saw Gerrera to free the planet from Separatist control. Unable to thwart the uprising, Kalani and the remnants of his forces evacuated to the planet of Agamar. He and his troops managed to survive and hide there, resisting a shutdown order issued to the entire droid army after the Clone Wars ended. Kalani later encountered a few Republic veterans and some members of the Rebel Alliance who visited the planet for battle supplies, and after a fight with them, ultimately chose to help them fend off the oppressive Galactic Empire. However, he declined to join the rebellion because he believed the odds of their cause seemed too great.
K-2SO Alan Tudyk (Rogue One and Untitled Cassian Series)[77] Imperial security droid stolen and reprogrammed by the Alliance in Rogue One. His appearance makes him useful when infiltrating Imperial installations and outposts, but as a result of his reprogramming, he has a tendency to speak his thoughts bluntly and tactlessly.[54][78] He is destroyed by stormtroopers whilst protecting Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor during the Rebel Alliance's raid on the Imperial data storage facility at Scarif to steal the Death Star schematics.
L3-37 Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Solo: A Star Wars Story) Trusted right-hand female pilot droid of Lando Calrissian, and the original co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, L3-37 is a no-nonsense robot revolutionary who frees the droids in the spice mines of Kessel. On one occasion, when Lando asks if she needs anything from outside the cockpit, she quips "equal rights".[79]
ME-8D9 N/A An "ancient protocol droid of unknown manufacture" that resides and works as a translator at Maz Kanata's castle on Takodana in The Force Awakens (2015).[80]
OOM-9 N/A Command battle droid that led the Trade Federation's droid army during the invasion of Naboo in The Phantom Menace. Destroyed when Anakin destroys the Trade Federation's ship in orbit of Naboo.
PZ-4CO N/A Droid introduced in the 2015 young adult novel Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry to whom Leia Organa dictates her memoirs.[81][82] PZ-4CO also appears in The Force Awakens.[83]
Q9-0 (aka "Zero") Voice: Richard Ayoade (The Mandalorian) Droid member of Ranzar Malk's crew, who attempts to release one of their associates, Qin, from a New Republic transport with the help of the Mandalorian. The crew secretly planned to abandon the Mandalorian once they released Qin, but he had anticipated their betrayal and leaves all of them behind on the transport, with the exception of Q9-0, who was left aboard the Mandalorian's ship, the Razor Crest; he was instead shot and destroyed by the Mandalorian after trying to kill the Child.
R2-D2 Kenny Baker (Episodes I-VI, VII; consultant)
Jimmy Vee (Episodes VII-IX and Rogue One)
R2 astromech droid built on Naboo that appears in all nine main Star Wars films and Rogue One.[54]
R2-KT N/A Pink R2 astromech droid (identical to a R2-D2 but with pink accents instead of blue) that first appears in The Clone Wars and then briefly in scenes at the Resistance base in The Force Awakens. The droid is also a playable character in the video game Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens. R2-KT was named in honor of seven year old Star Wars fan and cancer patient Katie Johnston.[84]
R3-S6 N/A Replacement astromech droid for Anakin when R2 is lost in The Clone Wars. He is later revealed to be working as a spy for General Grievous, and subsequently destroyed by R2-D2 himself.
R4-P17 N/A Nicknamed "Arfour", this astromech droid accompanies Obi-Wan Kenobi on his mission to Kamino in Attack of the Clones, and is assigned to Kenobi throughout much of the Clone Wars (appearing in several episodes of The Clone Wars series). R4 is decapitated by Buzz Droids in Revenge of the Sith, and is replaced by R4-G9.
R5-D4 N/A Astromech droid originally sold to Owen Lars on Tatooine in A New Hope which immediately malfunctions and is replaced by R2-D2.[54][85] This droid also received an action figure release during the second wave of Kenner's original Star Wars action figure line.
R7-A7 N/A Astromech droid owned by Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars. When Order 66 is issued, he helps out Ahsoka, but is destroyed by clone troopers looking to execute her.
RA-7 ("Death Star droid") N/A Originally appearing in the 1977 film Star Wars, these protocol droids are primarily used by Imperial officers as servants. They are also known as "Insect droids" or '"Death Star droids", due to the large numbers used aboard the Death Star. An RA-7 droid dubbed "Death Star Droid", was produced for Kenner's Star Wars action figure line in 1978.[86] The RA-7 type droid named AP-5[62] has a recurring role in Star Wars Rebels, assisting Hera Syndulla's Phoenix Squadron.
TC-14 John Fensom (The Phantom Menace)
Voice: Lindsay Duncan (The Phantom Menace)
Protocol droid who appears in the beginning of The Phantom Menace, serving drinks to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn aboard the Trade Federation's flagship Saak'ak.[87]
U9-C4 N/A Timid astromech droid sent on a mission with D-Squad, an all-droid special unit in The Clone Wars.[88]
WAC-47 Voice: Ben Diskin (The Clone Wars) Over-excitable "pit droid" that is assigned to a special Republic group of droids, D-Squad, to steal an encryption module from the Separatists in The Clone Wars.[89]

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