Star Wars The Essential Guide to Droidsby Daniel Wallace, Bill Hughes (Illustrator)
They can be anything from nursemaids to surgeons, diplomats to assassins. They walk, roll, and fly--and communicate in languages ranging from whistles and beeps to Standard Basic to the most obscure alien dialect. MixRMastRs make drinks in spaceport cantinas, Basilisks make war wherever they're deployed, and IT-O Interrogators
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER . . . DROID!
They can be anything from nursemaids to surgeons, diplomats to assassins. They walk, roll, and fly--and communicate in languages ranging from whistles and beeps to Standard Basic to the most obscure alien dialect. MixRMastRs make drinks in spaceport cantinas, Basilisks make war wherever they're deployed, and IT-O Interrogators make life nightmarish for prisoners of the Empire.
Droids are an integral and indispensable part of the Star Wars universe. And this comprehensive guide surveys all the myriad models and classes--from the lowliest drones to the most sophisticated humanoid automatons.
- Discover the evolution of the R-series droids, whose members include lumbering technicians and skilled X-wing navigators such as R2-D2
- Learn the curious history of the MSE-6 "mouse" droids employed exclusively in the bases and on Imperial starships of the Empire
- Explore the workings of the malevolent Shadow Droids: machines with living, organic brains
- Uncover how the Rebel's fearsome FIDO (Foreign Intruder Defense Organism) carries out its duties
Whatever its design and wherever it may be found in the ever-expanding Star Wars universe, if the subject is droid, its definitive data on development, history, and technology is included in this essential technical guide.
Read an Excerpt
"Did you hear that? They've shut down the main reactor. We'll be destroyed for sure. This is madness!"--C-3PO to R2-D2
When Star Wars: A New Hope unspooled across theater screens over two decades ago, the audience's first glimpse of the strange denizens inhabiting this "galaxy far far away" wasn't of a hot-tempered princess or a black-garbed Dark Lord. It wasn't of a self-assured smuggler or a wide-eyed farmboy. It wasn't even of a Jawa, Ewok, or Wookiee. The individuals George Lucas chose to inaugurate his epic space saga looked like a stiff golden statuette and a squat, warbling fireplug. They were droids, and as See-Threepio and Artoo-Detoo, the peculiar pair would become one of the most beloved movie duos of all time.
The word "robot," derived from a Czech term meaning "forced labor," was coined in 1920. It wasn't long before the silver screen took notice. In 1926, Fritz Lang's silent classic Metropolis introduced the first--a statuesque stunner named Maria whose graceful art-deco lines would later help inspire the conceptual design of C-3PO. A number of memorable movie mechanicals followed, including the mute brute Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, the delightfully deadpan Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, HAL 9000, the coldly calculating computer from 2001, and Yul Brynner's turn as a haywire theme-park attraction in Westworld. All were unforgettable characters, but their advanced silicon brains couldn't hide the fact that they were hardware without heart and software without soul. Lacking personalities audiences could identify with, movie robots fell into two neat categories: subservient drones and emotionless menaces.
Star Wars broke that mold. Artoo and Threepio were bickering buddies more akin to Laurel and Hardy than clockwork and cogwheels. Thanks largely to the men inside the metal, actors Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels, the droids were just as human as anyone else in the cast--and they got all the best lines, too. Threepio might be a sophisticated translation machine fluent in over six million forms of communication, but it is his exasperated response to a door slamming shut in his face ("how typical!") that elicits a sympathetic laugh. And despite the fact that Artoo could speak only in whistles, sound engineer Ben Burtt created a warmly expressive nonverbal language by mixing synthesized electronic tones with the sound of his own voice.
See-Threepio and Artoo-Detoo may have greeted us at the door, but more droids--many more--waited for us in the dusty corners of Mos Eisley and the cavernous hallways of the Death Star. The movie trilogy's "lived-in" design scheme meant that most of these whirring gadgets had rust spots and flaking paint jobs, but their appearances were always funny, intriguing, and bizarre, from the gleefully sadistic torturer in Jabba the Hutt's boiler room to the marching carton aboard the Jawa sandcrawler that unaccountably blurted out "gonk, gonk."
The sheer variety of sizes, forms, and appearances hammered home one obvious fact--when folks in the Star Wars universe have a problem, they build a droid. Specialized robots fill every conceivable niche from trash collection to surgery, and it has taken twenty years of novels, comics, computer games, television cartoons, and newspaper strips to showcase their full product range.
The Essential Guide to Droids is proud to present one hundred of these universal gizmos. We like to think we covered all the cool ones.
Daniel Wallace Detroit, Michigan
A GUIDE TO MAJOR MANUFACTURERS
Droids are intelligent mechanical contraptions that are vital to the smooth operation of galactic society. Every day, millions of subservient automatons negotiate treaties, repair hyperdrives, cure plagues, incinerate garbage, nurse children, haul cargo, deliver messages, cook meals, and kill enemies. At the same time, droids are often ignored and unappreciated, treated as chattel by many owners and looked at with outright hostility by others. Though antidroid prejudice is a reality among the unenlightened, the few owners who have spent long stretches of time with their droids have discovered that they can be trusted companions and loyal friends.
Unlike machines, all droids possess intelligence to some degree. Unlike computers, most droids are designed for mobility on limbs, wheels, or antigravity fields. The manufacture and sale of droids is a lucrative business dominated by the "Big Two"--Cybot Galactica and Industrial Automaton. Other major droid players include Arakyd Industries, Genetech Corporation, MerenData, and Veril Line Systems.
Of the millions of droid manufacturing plants in the galaxy, the two largest are Mechis III and Telti, which together produce a sizable percentage of all new automatons. Both locations are entire worlds covered with sprawling construction facilities and fully automated assembly lines; any human interaction in the fabrication process other than the most minimal supervision is unnecessary and counterproductive. The major droid companies pay these two worlds a negotiated fee for the use of their assembly plants, a cost that is acceptable given the speed and accuracy with which they can churn out large orders. Arakyd Industries, Genetech Corporation, SoroSuub Corporation, and Veril Line Systems are some of the companies that employ Mechis III for a major share of their production. Industrial Automaton and Cybot Galactica rely heavily on Telti. The novice Jedi Knight Brakiss recently served as manager of the Telti plants, while Mechis III is currently operated by the Thul family of Alderaan.
In addition to the more common droids produced by major manufacturers, there are many mechanicals that are difficult to classify for a number of reasons. Some droids are so ancient that verifiable information on their manufacture has been lost in the fog of history. Some are unique creations concocted by ingenious, oddball inventors, yet others are products of restricted alien governments.
Accutronics, a former subsidiary of Industrial Automaton, was an early forerunner in the marketing of droids to families with young children. Their remarkable success in persuading the public to view metallic machines as loving caregivers has allowed the company to move out from IA's shadow and become the leader in their niche. Accutronics' corporate headquarters is located on Eriadu and its satellite offices are found throughout the Outer Rim.
Model E TDL Nanny Droid
The rise of the militaristic Empire was very good for Arakyd Industries. Through political maneuvering and competitive infighting the company set itself up as the only logical choice to receive the first Imperial droid contracts; they shrewdly exploited this early windfall by working hard to become the galaxy's leading military supplier. Recent consumer-market models from Arakyd have been moderately successful, but only account for a small fraction of their total yearly output. Despite the company's past history, the New Republic has worked closely with Arakyd since the collapse of Imperial rule.
Death Star Droid G-2RD Guard Mark X Executioner Seeker Messenger Droid Moon Moth Tracker Droid Probot Series
Balmorra, home to Balmorran Arms, is an ancient factory world at the edge of the Core. The Empire used the planet's huge assembly plants to churn out the majority of its AT-ST scout walkers, but Balmorra's master weaponsmiths also designed several unique tools, including the SD-9 and SD-10 robotic infantry soldiers, for Emperor Palpatine. During the rampages of the resurrected Emperor, Governor Beltane introduced the X-1 Viper in the hopes of freeing his people from Imperial rule.
SD-9 and SD-10
X-1 Viper ("Automadon")
Corellian Engineering Corporation
Corellian Engineering Corporation (CEC) is one of the galaxy's three largest starship manufacturers and arguably the most respected. In addition to blockade runners and light freighters, CEC manufactures the droid-based StarHauler cargo barge. Though the company has taken steps to prevent it, many of their products are stolen by criminals and refitted into deadly robot ramships.
Drone Barge Robot Ramship
Corporate Sector Authority
The Corporate Sector Authority (CSA) is the ruling administration in the Corporate Sector, a free-enterprise profit center that was nominally controlled by the Empire during Palpatine's reign. Since the rise of the New Republic the CSA has remained aloof and reluctant to form political alliances. The region is a thriving and diverse manufacturing center, exporting thousands of new and innovative products to the greater galaxy each year.
CD-2 Harvester Firefighting Robo
One of the two largest droid manufacturers in the galaxy--Industrial Automaton is the other--Cybot Galactica is a major force in the galactic economy and a significant influence throughout the Core Worlds and Corporate Sector. Famous for the 3PO protocol series, Cybot is also responsible for an extraordinary array of droid models ranging from simple labor units to advanced security sentinels.
Binary Load Lifter Guardian Droid Imperial City Maintenance Droid LE Repair Droid LIN Demolitionmech M-3PO Military Protocol Droid PD Lurrian Protocol Droid Robo-bartenders
3PO Protocol Droid WED Treadwell
A small, quiet medisensor company, Geentech was casually run out of business by the much larger Genetech Corporation in a string of heavy-handed and highly expensive lawsuits. Claiming Geentech's similar name infringed on their own copyrights, Genetech forced their competitor into bankruptcy and, though these allegations have never been proven, might even have offered Imperial prosecutors a lucrative trade inducement to ensure their victory. Geentech's sole success story, the 2-1B Surgical Droid, was subsequently bought out by Industrial Automaton.
2-1B Surgical Droid
One of the older and larger droid manufacturers, Genetech Corporation started out as a pharmaceutical firm. The company pioneered the concept of using droids to streamline the manufacturing process, which earned them a great deal of ill-will--and fueled the antidroid movement--when thousands of assembly workers were fired from their jobs. Genetech's first droids were medical units, but the company has since branched out into accounting, administrative, and bookkeeping models.
Systems Control Droid
Go-Corp/Utilitech is based on Etti IV and makes vehicle droids for sale throughout the Corporate Sector. Go-Corp produces the actual speeder carriages, while its subsidiary Utilitech manufactures and programs the more intricate droid brains. Apart from the widespread robo-hack, the company's products are not often encountered outside the Corporate Sector's borders.
A public inquiry for more information about "Holowan Mechanicals--The Friendly Technology People" will reveal a bland corporate statement and a list of obscure industrial products. The shocking truth is much harder to come by. Holowan was a front corporation for the Imperially funded development of the IG-series assassin droid, an experiment that ended in disaster when the prototype units escaped from the laboratory and murdered nearly all of the design staff.
IG Assassin Droid
Imperial Department of Military Research
During his decades-long reign, Emperor Palpatine conscripted many of the galaxy's best scientists and theorists for the purpose of creating genocidal implements of war. The Empire's top-secret Department of Military Research produced a number of inhuman inventions, from siege weapons such as the orbital nightcloak to murderous automatons such as the Dark Trooper.
Human Replica Droid
Imperial Mark IV Sentry Droid
The other half of the "Big Two," Industrial Automaton (IA) is a massive and influential droid corporation formed long ago through the merger of Automata Galactica and Industrial Intelligence. Known for its high-precision merchandise and deep discounts, the company's crowning glory is the universally accepted R series of astromech droids. IA continually battles Cybot Galactica for the credit accounts of consumers and offers an equally diverse product line.
Asp Decon Droid Elegance Message Drone MD Medical Specialist FLR Logger ("Lumberdroid")
LOM Protocol Droid Hound-W2 SPD MN-2E General Maintenance Droid P2 and R1 Astromechs R2 Astromech R3 and R4 Astromechs R5 Astromech R6 and R7 Astromechs SE4 Servant Droid Q9-X2
Based in the Corporate Sector, LeisureMech Enterprises produces high-quality recreational, entertainment, and luxury droids for sale to businesses and wealthy consumers. One subsidiary branch of LeisureMech was so successful at producing security droids that it was spun off to form the Ulban Arms company.
Automated Sabacc Dealers C5 Robo-bartender
Les Tech is a small, privately owned business in the Core Worlds that specializes in exploration droids. Particularly notable is the fact that for years the company has determinedly--and so far, successfully--fought off a takeover attempt by the much larger Cybot Galactica. Most of Les Tech's droids were employed by Imperial frontier scouts, a reliance that financially crippled the company when the Emperor curtailed most exploration during the Galactic Civil War. To make up for the loss, Les Tech made a number of sales to the Rebel Alliance.
M38 Explorer MULE Droid
"All the finest, all the first." Beneath a cheery slogan, Loronar Corporation is one of the galaxy's largest and most diverse conglomerates--and also one of the most corrupt. Under its Loronar Defense Industries imprint the company produces blaster artillery, turbolasers, and immense Imperial military craft such as Strike-class cruisers and torpedo spheres. Charges of rights abuses in the Gantho system and elsewhere have dogged the company for years, but it took a Loronar-backed revolutionary uprising in the Meridian Sector to bring about substantial legal penalties and official New Republic condemnation. Loronar's largest droid manufacturing facility lies on the moon of Carosi.
Fly Eye Synthdroid
The name Lovolan is synonymous with wealth, dignity, beauty, and exclusivity. Based in the Core Worlds, the company produces products that are astonishingly expensive and intricately ornamented, sometimes ostentatiously so. Lovolan's fortunes tend to rise and fall with the amount of disposable income in the galactic economy, but there are always enough affluent bureaucrats and self-important aristocrats to keep the company going during a lean year.
R-10 Household Droid
A trailblazer in the medical field, Medtech Industries developed some of the earliest surgical-based automatons. Droids such as the FX were extremely successful in their day, but changing tastes and increased competitive pressures prevented Medtech from producing any new models. After the Battle of Yavin the company's corporate headquarters were relocated to the Deep Core, but all cost-cutting measures were in vain. Medtech filed for bankruptcy shortly before the Battle of Hoth.
FX Medical Assistant
A frequent beneficiary of Imperial contracts, MerenData specializes in security systems, military target drones, and a variety of droid products--some sinister, some benign. Efforts to establish a working relationship between MerenData and the New Republic government have been disappointing.
EV Supervisor Droid Positronic Processor RM-2020 Espionage Droid
PowerPost is a small office supply company responsible for the SCM-22 Stenographer. Initially the SCM-22 was sold only in PowerPost authorized retail outlets, but the unit's success has prompted the company to expand its distribution channels.
A relatively new company serving the industrial-maintenance market, Publictechnic has achieved great success by tailoring their products to suit governments and large corporations. Publictechnic's main manufacturing plant is located on Sennatt, in Bothan space.
850.AA Public Service Headquarters Tree Feeder U2C1 Housekeeping Droid
A calamitous Chadra-Fan attempt to crack the galactic droid market, Rebaxan Columni was responsible for the much-despised "mouse droid." Though the company closed its doors long ago, its rodent-like product is likely to remain a military fixture for decades to come.
MSE-6 ("Mouse Droid")
Rebel Alliance/New Republic Research and Development
When the ragtag Rebel Alliance couldn't beg, borrow, or steal the droids it needed for its war against the Empire, it was often forced to create them from scratch. Many of the early Rebel innovators later helped found the sophisticated New Republic Department of Research and Development.
Foreign Intruder Defense Organism (FIDO)
Scavenger Droid NR 1100 Slicer Droid
"Roche" is convenient shorthand for the name of the droid program operated by the insectoid Verpine species. The correct name, when translated into Basic, is Roche Hive Mechanical Apparatus Design And Construction Activity For Those Who Need The Hive's Machines. One of the most successful alien-owned droid corporations, Roche has suffered unfairly at the hands of its larger competitors, forcing it to resort to limited distribution channels in the Roche Asteroid Belt and on traveling Ithorian herdships.
8D8 Smelting Operator
11-17 Miner Droid J9 Worker Drone
Serv-O-Droid is an ancient droid manufacturing corporation responsible for some of the earliest construction and heavy labor automatons. In its later years the firm branched out into scientific, bookkeeping, security, military, and domestic models, but none of the new droids could prevent a slow, but inexorable, slide into bankruptcy. Technically Serv-O-Droid is no longer in business, but its name survives through a successful remainder house on Elshandruu Pica and millions of hardworking droids that have remained functional for decades.
CZ Secretary Droid TT-8L ("Tattletale")
Wrecker Droid ZZ-4Z ("ZeeZee")
Sienar Intelligence Systems
A powerful arm of Santhe/Sienar, which manufactures the Empire's ubiquitous TIE fighter, Sienar Intelligence Systems specializes in government contracts with an emphasis on filling Imperial orders. In this arena they compete with Arakyd Industries and, to a lesser degree, MerenData. Sienar's products are not sold in stores and can only be purchased by direct commission.
E522 Assassin Droid Scarab Droid
The volcanic planet Sullust is dominated by SoroSuub Corporation, an enormous manufacturing conglomerate with its fingers in the communications, foodstuffs, mining, armaments, starship, and droid industries. SoroSuub was a staunch ally of the Empire despite the Rebel sympathies of many Sullustan citizens. It took years of negotiations to convince the company to throw its support behind the Rebel Alliance, but SoroSuub is now one of the New Republic's most loyal friends. Its droid products are as varied as one might expect from such a diverse corporation.
Memory Droid Scout Collector and Surveyor Package
12-4C-41 Traffic Controller Unit Zed
Telbrintel is a specialist firm known for its highly accurate scientific droids, which are common sights in universities and military research laboratories. The company is based in the Core Worlds and has recently expanded its product line with paramedic and information-collating droids.
TT-40 Library Droid
A family-owned business with a long and respected history, Trang Robotics is best known for the highly regarded Duelist Elite fencing trainer. The company's lavish headquarters and master-craftsman workshops are located on the inhabited moon of Drewwa in the remote Almanian system.
An unlikely extension of LeisureMech Enterprises, Ulban Arms is a recently formed Corporate Sector company specializing in military and security designs. Ulban's first success was the Class I Defense Droid, an infantry unit based on--some would say stolen from--a set of Imperial blueprints. Since the fall of the Empire the company has produced several new products for sale outside the Corporate Sector's borders.
Red Terror S-EP1 Security
Veril Line Systems
Veril Line Systems is a venerable corporation with a long history of superior industrial products. Its boxy, black Power Droids are used almost everywhere, while its forty-story Construction Droids have helped make Imperial City the metropolis it is today. Veril's main offices are located on Coruscant.
Construction Droid EG-6 Power Droid Gyrowheel 1.42.08 Recycling Droid
Ranging from the decades-old Arkanian revolution to the pre-Republic era of Xim the Despot more than 25,000 years in the past, the droids produced by early conquerors hold a special fascination for modern scholars. Regrettably, much of the original data on these battle machines is missing since the groups that produced them are no longer viable companies.
Basilisk War Droid Gorm the Dissolver Krath War Droid Xim's War-Robot
All droids are the products of inventors to some degree; the droids listed here are unique in that all of them were designed by a single individual, manufactured by a highly select group, and produced in extremely small numbers. One notable inventor, Simonelle the Ingoian, was said to have developed the first human replica droid, but recently declassified reports regarding the Imperial Department of Military Research and engineer Massad Thrumble have thrown Simonelle's folk-hero status into dispute.
B'omarr Brain Walker Em Teedee Fromm Tower Droid Human Replica Droid Widget
Miscellaneous Alien Species
Besides the few established companies such as Roche, most alien species lack the resources and sales channels to market droids widely. This discriminatory fact was even more pronounced during the bigoted rule of Emperor Palpatine, though the New Republic has taken steps to reverse the Emperor's unjust legacy. Many alien droid products are produced by the homeworld government in question. Information on Vuffi Raa's creators and the bizarre technology of the Ssi-ruuk is still sketchy due to inadequate intelligence data from the Unknown Regions.
C2-R4 Multipurpose Unit
Rodian Hunter Trainer Ssi-ruuvi Security Droid Vuffi Raa X10-D Draft Droid
Astromech: P2 and R1
The P2 and R1 models were Industrial Automaton's first stabs at creating a new line of consumer-market astromechs. Though both droids were modest hits in their day, with the benefit of hindsight they appear as awkward baby steps compared to the giant leap forward that was the R2.
The P2 was an astromech prototype, sold exclusively to the Old Republic merchant fleet on a trial basis. Massive, cumbersome, and sluggish, it nevertheless showcased many of the sleek design features that would become common with later models in the R series. The droid had three wheeled legs, a rotating head dome, and retractable manipulator arms that folded into a cylindrical armored hull.
Sporting a primitive version of the Intellex ship-configuration computer, the P2 made a capable maintenance unit for bulk cruisers and container vessels, while its buzzsaw and laser welder helped it perform simple repair jobs. But the droid was clumsy, slow to learn, and could only communicate through its video display screen or a computer link.
Most captains, however, were pleased with the units. IA was finalizing plans to publicly release the P2 when they were slapped with a technology infringement lawsuit. Though the case was eventually dropped, legal delays and bad publicity killed the P2 line. IA was forced to start fresh.
The R1 was a natural evolution of the P2, despite its unconventional appearance. To save costs during its draining courtroom battles, IA reused the tall, black body shells from its Mark II Reactor Drone series. This gave the R1 natural shielding against the most intensive radiation.
Each R1 possessed an advanced Intellex III computer, containing a detailed catalog of 500 starship configurations. Furthermore, the droid was the first IA astromech with the ability to calculate navigational coordinates for a single hyperspace jump. Due to their size, most R1s were stationed aboard Capital warships and large freighters. Their array of retractable tools turned them into adequate technicians, but many buyers complained about the droids' obstinate personalities and lethargic method of locomotion--a treaded unipod, which frequently broke down and stranded the unit in one spot. IA promised to address these concerns in their next model.
One major breakthrough introduced with the R1 was the beeping, whistling electronic language known as Droidspeak. This information-dense vernacular allowed R1s to communicate efficiently with other droids and data networks and would soon be recognized as a distinctive and endearing hallmark of the entire R series.
Meet the Author
Daniel Wallace is the author of many books, including Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Characters and Star Wars: The Jedi Path. He currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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This book is the best. Now I know all about the different droids in the Star Wars universe and how they work. I recomend this book to anyone.
Superior book! Lots of great information on the droids of the Star Wars universe. A truly interesting progression of droid technology along the SW timeline, and it helped me get a better idea of the droids I'd always heard and read about. For instance: what exactly IS a binary loadlifter? What on earth are those mouse droids for? This book will tell you all you want to know and then some.