- "No job is over this little guy's head."
- ―R2-series advertising slogan
The R2-series astromech droid was a model of astromech droid produced by Industrial Automaton, boasting a level of success that was never equaled in Industrial Automaton's long history. A combination of excellent design, high-quality marketing, and good timing made this astromech droid one of the most sought after droids in history, and one of the few vintage astromech series still in active production decades after it was first designed, including the prototype R2-0. The line was so successful, even being given a positive review by Mechtech Illustrated for its versatility, that the Galactic Empire would later take credit for the design. The average cost for an R2 unit was about 4245 Republic Credits.
Like its forerunners, the R2 astromech was designed to work in and around space vessels as a diagnostic and repair unit. But unlike the clunky R1-series, this rounded, waist-high droid was made specifically to fit in military starfighter astromech slots. This was a radical departure, as previously all such droids had been dedicated government models. The droid was equally popular with Galactic Republic fighter jocks as it was with the general public.
When plugged into a T-65 X-wing starfighter, Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor, or similar starfighter, the R2 monitored flight performance, pinpointed and corrected technical problems, and performed power management, optimizing shipboard systems. Its ROM library had reference and repair designs for well over seven hundred starship models to ensure it was able to do its functions in repairwork, with its Intellex IV internal computer scans technical files also co pinpointing potential problems as well as finding data patterns or debug computer codes, allowing it to conduct over 10,000 MPF operations a second. The unit could store up to ten sets of hyperspace vector coordinates in the RAM of its astrogation buffer (thus allowing for even ships with limited navicomputers to make hyperspace jumps and also acting as a backup in the event of navicomputer malfunctions), and many had the intelligence and experience to perform engine startup and pre-flight taxiing. The R2 operated flawlessly in the vacuum of interstellar space. R2 units were equipped with a holographic recording mode.
The center of the droids' success could be attributed to its Intellex IV computer, which featured at least 700 different spacecraft configurations and could do over 10000 MPF operations every second. Likewise, its built-in telecom software also allowed it to communicate with computers under the jurisdiction of both the Imperial Navy Transmission and the Corporate Sector Standard communications systems, as well as being given custom communications software. Its sensor package was equally impressive, with a full-spectrum transceiver and electromagnetic, heat, motion, and life form indicators. The droid also had a fully maneuverable video sensor, deployed from its domed head, allowing it to inspect enclosed spaces or peer over obstacles. The line also possessed a retractable jack that allowed the unit to plug directly into Imperial-standard computer ports, thus allowing it a direct hard-wired connection to most computers. It also had a flexible video sensor unit that allowed the R2 unit to examine hard-to-see workspaces via a 360-degree rotational joint, with a maximum reach of .85 meters. Aside from its video sensors, the R2-line also had a wide sensor array for almost any purpose, including a full spectrum transceiver, electrophoto receptors, DERs and heat and motion detectors, all of which are routed to the R2's Intellex IV internal computer that supported sophisticated analysis programs including life-form identification subroutines.
The droid's outer shell concealed an array of tools beneath its streamlined durasteel exterior. Each R2 came equipped from the factory with two manipulator arms (a heavy duty grasper with 25 kilo lifting capacity and 10 kilo grasping measure as well as a fine manipulator with 2 kilo lifting capacity with three 360-degree rotational joints for complete maneuverability and micro-adjustment controls that allowed for better than one micrometer placement accuracy; both manipulators have a .85 meter reach and are fully retractable within the body when not in use), an electric arc welder, circular saw, computer scomp link arm, VicksVisc holographic recorder/projector unit, internal cargo compartment, and a general-use fire extinguisher, all of which came at no extra cost if purchased with the R2 unit. IA, taking a page from Corellian ship-builders, made the droids easy to upgrade and modify. The company offered a variety of after-market packages, but industrious owners also managed to equip R2s with such eclectic items and accessories as underwater propellers, laser pointers, jet thrusters, remote sensor limpets, and inflatable life rafts. This adaptability made the R2 units particularly popular among tech-heads, who often would have running competitions over who could outfit the most eclectic droid.
IA spent a great deal of time in the design of the R2's personality matrix. The droid was obliging, quick witted, and sincere. If the droid was not subjected to periodic memory wipes, it could develop a headstrong, self-reliant disposition. Many owners, however, actually preferred a droid willing to offer candid second opinions. Starfighter pilots tended to develop a strong bond with their astromech droids, often flying all their missions with one particular droid, and strongly objected to the memory wipes their counterparts were given on a regular basis in some units.
At least by the time of the Galactic Civil War, R2 purchases came with a three-year warranty, a user-support hotline, IA quality, various affordable prices, and dealer financing.
The most notable R2-series astromech droid was R2-D2. He participated in numerous battles during both the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War. It was R2 who helped deliver the Death Star plans to the Rebellion, allowing their victory at the Battle of Yavin, and a message from Princess Leia to Obi-Wan Kenobi, which caused Luke Skywalker to leave Tatooine and go on to become a Jedi Knight.
Ever since the droid came to the public's attention shortly after the destruction of the first Death Star, despite having played a major part in many previous events, sales showed their highest increase since the launch of the series. IA resisted the urge to feature R2-D2's heroics in its HoloNet advertisements released after the fall of the Galactic Empire for fear of alienating New Republic leaders.