Flushed with the success of their landmark R2 launch, Industrial Automaton rushed to capitalize on their new dominance of the astromech droid market. The R4-series agromech droid was a highly successful attempt to capture a new market prospect—the Outer Rim urbanite who was more likely to have a souped-up landspeeder parked in their garage than an X-wing. Accordingly, the R4 agromech droid was designed for life outside the pristine hangar bay. It was simpler, tougher, and cheaper than previous R3-series models.
The R4 had the same outward appearance of an R2 or R3 droid below the dome, but to save money on production, items such as the video display screen and miniature fire extinguisher were omitted. The holographic projector/recorder unit was retained, but relocated to the top of the head dome to allow for use of a cheaper, less miniaturized unit with a smaller rotational axis. The droid's Intellex VI computer was advanced, but geared toward common repulsorcraft designs and specs for commercially available space transports. The computer brain was designed with more space between the components, lowering production costs, but requiring a larger head dome, and likewise eliminated many of the function indicators and gadgetry found on other R-series head domes. The R4 was unsuited to the task of starfighter astromech; it could only hold the coordinates for a single hyperspace jump in its astrogation buffer, a one way trip for any fighter jock.
The droids were rugged; able to shrug off the nicks and dents common to a working garage environment as well or better than other R-droids. IA was pleased to discover that, with regular maintenance checks, the R4 outlasted its design parameters for operational life, weather endurance, personality matrix stability, and time elapsed between recharge sessions.
Because of their increased durability, R4s were the preferred "mech" droids used by the Jedi. Given the interstellar nature of their work, however, most of the R4 droids purchased for the Jedi were modified to include the more expensive R2 style head. This gave them many of the best features of the R2 and R4 series. Many of these droids were further modified by mechanics in the Jedi Temple to permanently interface with the Delta-7 Aethersprite-class light interceptor, until the Jedi moved on to the Delta-7B and Eta-2 Actis-class interceptor. Even so, pilots retained R4 units in the Eta-2 interceptor.
Mass-market buyers liked the R4, as did the freedom fighters of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. They reasoned that no one would be suspicious of a mass purchase of astromech droids, the way they would be of starfighter-ready copilots like the R2. The model's low cost and knowledge of general-purpose vehicles were also greatly appreciated by the resource-strapped Rebels, and soon the droids' conical heads were familiar sights in Alliance bases and Mon Calamari hangar bays. A few R4s, equipped with non-standard magnetic fault sensors, were used by the Galactic Empire to detect flaws and weaknesses in the atmospheric containment fields in hangar bays on board both Death Stars and on Star Destroyers.
- Anakin to the Rescue
- Full of Surprises
- Boba Fett: The Fight to Survive
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones junior novel
- Republic 53
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 1"
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 2"
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 4"
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 10"
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 11"
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 17"
- Star Wars: Clone Wars PhotoComic
- The Clone Wars: Decide Your Destiny: Crisis on Coruscant
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Children of the Force"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "R2 Come Home"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Evil Plans"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Nightsisters"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Soft War"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Secret Weapons"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "A Sunny Day in the Void"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Missing in Action"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Point of No Return"
- MedStar II: Jedi Healer
- Star Wars: Republic: Dreadnaughts of Rendili
- Labyrinth of Evil
- Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 23"
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith comic
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith junior novel
- Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- When the Desert Wind Turns: The Stormtrooper's Tale
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (First appearance)
- And the Band Played On: The Band's Tale
- "Skywalkers"—Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Volume 2
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- Star Wars: Battlefront
- Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron
- Operation: Elrood
- "Harm's Way"—The Kathol Rift
- The New Rebellion
- LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
- LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles video game
- LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick
- Star Wars: Visions of the Blade
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game
- Tag & Bink Are Dead
- "Ghosts of Hoth" — Star Wars Tales 17
- "Skreej" — Star Wars Tales 10
- The Star Wars Sourcebook
- Dark Force Rising Sourcebook (As "R4")
- Galaxy Guide 7: Mos Eisley
- Star Wars Sourcebook, Second Edition
- "The History of R-Series Astromech Droids" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 7
- The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook
- Cynabar's Fantastic Technology: Droids (Picture only)
- Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition
- The Essential Guide to Droids
- Star Wars: The Action Figure Archive
- Look Sir, Droids!"—Star Wars Gamer 3 "
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 9 (MAN1, Droid Manufacturers) (Indirect mention only)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 10 (ART1, R2-D2 (Artoo-Detoo))
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 11 (AST3–4, Astromech Droids)
- Arms & Equipment Guide
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided Quick Reference Guide
- The New Essential Guide to Droids
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (As "R4 unit")
- Rebellion Era Campaign Guide
- Suns of Fortune (Picture only)
- Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – Rebel Transport Expansion Pack (Card: R4-D6)
- Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – Most Wanted Expansion Pack (Card: R4 Agromech)
- Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – Most Wanted Expansion Pack (Card: R4-B11)
- Fly Casual (Picture only)