- "You're just a droid. You don't know about real duty, about what it's like to have a brother."
"I am sorry. I always wanted to have human feelings, but I do not."
- ―Clone trooper Fives and AZI-3
Droids, less commonly known as robots and automatons, were mechanical beings that possessed artificial intelligence. They were used in a variety of roles and environments, often those considered too menial or too dangerous for other species, but also in fields that required extensive specialization and knowledge.
- "Never underestimate a droid."
- ―Leia Organa, to Rey
The earliest origins of droids were lost to history, and, by the time of the New Republic, it was unknown exactly when the first droid was created, though some historians, only taking into account the more advanced worlds, placed the origin of the first droids to approximately 30,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. Nevertheless, for millennia, droids served in galactic society alongside organic beings. According to the B1-series battle droid R0-GR, the bond between organic and mechanical lifeforms were tenuous with the former fearing that droids would rise up against their masters. Though several droid revolts took place, Roger claimed that an "unspoken understanding" between human and droid cultures kept everyone working on the same team throughout the ages.
Droids existed as far back as the earliest days of the Jedi Order, which was founded over 25,000 years before the Clone Wars. One such ancient droid, Professor Huyang, served the Jedi for several millennia. As a result of this ancient coexistence with living beings, the galaxy often had an uneven relationship between organics and mechanicals. Records of uprisings and clashes between droids and their organic overlords became increasingly common as droids slowly became more important in galactic society. During the High Republic Era, the Nihil deployed blaredroids and scav droids.
During the pan-galactic conflict known as the Clone Wars, the Confederacy of Independent Systems used a variety of battle droids in its fight against the Galactic Republic. This mass use of droids in combat cemented the idea of the "droid as an existential threat to biological life" narrative in the minds of the Republic. Droids were not utilized by the Chiss Ascendancy by the time of the Clone Wars.
Ultimately, the Republic won the war and was replaced by an authoritarian Galactic Empire. Under the new regime, many people in the galaxy were afraid or otherwise distrustful of droids, due to their bad memories of the conflict. The Galactic Empire fostered anti-droid sentiment, treating droids as property. Many sentients continued the Clone Wars policies of wiping droids' memories, fitting them with restraining bolts, and curtailing their movements. Several establishments also excluded droids.
The Rebel Alliance, which opposed the Empire, treated droids not as property but as sentient beings. Several droids were encouraged by the Rebellion and carried out acts of resistance such as bypassing repressive programming, deactivating restraining bolts, and demanding freedom. The Rebellion's acceptance of droids as equals was continued by the New Republic and Resistance.
- "Droids are not good or bad. They are neutral reflections of those who imprint them."
Droids were mechanical constructs designed to assist organic lifeforms in various tasks. Depending on the nature of the work they performed, they possessed various degrees of artificial intelligence. Most droids had hard-coded restrictions against harming organics. Notable exceptions included security droids and assassin droids.
Droids came in all sizes and shapes, and many of them resembled humanoid organics, possessing an upright posture, two arms, two legs, hands, feet, one thorax, a neck, and a head. The B1 battle droids were designed to resemble their insectoid Geonosian creators. Likewise, the Colicoids designed the three-legged droidekas in their image. Some droids, like the LOM-series unit, were made to resemble the organics they served.
Contrary to organics, who were born and healed slowly, droids were easily built en masse, were less fragile, and could be repaired easily. They also did not have to learn skills (such as calculation abilities), as they were directly programmed with them. Most droids possessed a form of self-awareness, with advanced models even having emotions such as fear for their existence. Droids did not need to breathe, eat or drink. They were capable of surviving in a vacuum and underwater, and were immune to all poisons and toxins. They did not need to sleep, although they could be deactivated as a form of sleep and had occasional maintenance cycles.
Because they were not technically alive, droids could not access the Force, an energy field that connected all living things in the galaxy. The reprogrammed protocol unit Triple-Zero, however, theorized that the Force might flow through a droid equipped with a special engine driven by human blood. Additionally, not being alive, droids could not be sensed in the Force, though a skilled Jedi might sense their presence through the empty spots they left in the Force.
Unlike mere machines or primitive computers, droids were capable of developing unique personalities by gathering experiences. They could form friendships, and experience emotions such as happiness, pain, and sadness. To avoid that, most droid owners performed regular memory wipes on their properties. However, memory wipes were not always perfect, occasionally leaving droids with vague recollections.
It was the nature of less complex droids to assume that if a human acted as if they belonged somewhere, then that human did belong there.
Classes of droids
- "For easy identification, droids are traditionally divided into five classes based on their specifications. (Frankly, I think that lumping us together like this is a little rude. I assume this list was developed by a human with zero class.)"
Droids could be entrusted with a multitude of tasks, ranging from running elementary diagnostics to performing complicated medical procedures, or sending communications to flying starships. Depending on their technology, skills, and purpose, droids were grouped into five "classes," also called "degrees."
First class droids
The first class was made up of droids skilled in mathematical, physical, and medical sciences. Examples included the JN-66 analysis droid, the 2-1B-series medical droid, the midwife droid, the DD-13 tripedal medical droid, and the GH-7 series medical assistance droid.
Second class droids
Third class droids
Fourth class droids
Fifth class droids
Fifth class droids were programmed for manual labor and intensive jobs that did not require a high level of intelligence. Examples included the GNK-series power droid, the MSE-6 series repair droid, the IW-37 pincer loader droid, the R-H029 sifter droid, the PK-series worker droid, and the UX-53 Autopolisher MK.II Droid.
Behind the scenes
- "Well, the droids were there to serve. Obviously droids are servants of man. They do as they are commanded and all that kind of stuff but at the same time I love droids, they're my favorite people. I didn't want them to be cold robots. Even the robots in THX are very friendly. They're not malevolent. In Star Wars I really wanted to get into the robots and their problems in life; a little equal time for robots, who have taken a lot of shit over the years and have never really had a chance to prove themselves."
- ―George Lucas, referring to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
In 1977, during an interview regarding the original trilogy film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, George Lucas stated that droids were designed to serve sentients. However, droids were Lucas' favorite people, and the filmmaker did not want droids to be cold or malevolent, just like how the robots in THX 1138 were "very friendly." Lucas wanted to focus on droids and their issues in life, giving them equal screentime since they had endured much suffering over the years and had little to no opportunities to prove themselves. As with Akira Kurosawa's film Seven Samurai, A New Hope follows the points of view of two lowly beings—the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO.[source?]
George Lucas holds a trademark on the term "droid." The miniature 'mech combat wargame BattleTech was originally released under the name BattleDroids, but was renamed due to trademark issues with Lucasfilm.
Pixar Animation Studios' film The Incredibles (2004) contains a reference to Lucasfilm's droid with the large weapon of destruction, the Omnidroid; an apparently unrelated killer droid of the same name also appears in Star Wars Galaxies. The credits of the film give a nod to Lucasfilm.
From Mickey News (25 November 2004):
- [In] the closing credits... a notice that the term "Omnidroid" was used by permission of Lucasfilm Ltd. has prompted some fans to speculate that The Incredibles offers a sneak peak at a character from the next Star Wars film.
- "No. No, no, no," Bird [Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles] says with a laugh, when asked if the secret weapon has a secret of its own. "I like that they think that, but it's more the term 'droid' is Lucas and we made the term Omnidroid (and then got the OK as a courtesy). So, no, there's no sneak. But God bless those fans. They're crazy."
The term "Droid" has been licensed by Verizon Wireless for their line of smartphones based on the Android operating system. Motorola's late-2009 Google Android-based cell phone is called the Droid, and this line of phone has been expanded to include other Android-based phones released under Verizon. The term is used under license from Lucasfilm.
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