The R4 courier droid, also known as the Imperial courier droid or Imperial communication droid, were modified R4 astromech droids used by the Galactic Empire designed to be couriers, carrying information from one place to another, avoiding the use of networks. Courier droids wore the badge of the Imperial Press Corps, which allowed them access to top-secret information, and often featured unique markings to help differentiate them. After Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin ordered the destruction of Lothal's Imperial Communications Center, the Empire began using R4 courier droids as a means to physically transport data to and from the planet's surface.
R4 courier droids were used to transport information from place to place when computer networks were not available. Courier droids were usually repurposed astromech droids the featured special markings to differentiate them. The Empire did not program their courier droids to have personalities. As a result, courier droids could only beep yes and no.
When Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin ordered the destruction of Lothal's Imperial Communications Center in 4 BBY, the Imperial authorities there began using R4 courier droids to physically transport sensitive data. The Spectres took advantage of the situation to try to discover the whereabouts of Kanan Jarrus, stealing a courier droid designated 264 and substituting their own repainted droid, C1-10P. The rebel droid infiltrated an Arquitens-class command cruiser in orbit of Lothal, obtained information on Jarrus' whereabouts, and returned to his own ship, the Ghost, that ship being under heavy fire.
Aboard the Ghost, 264 was making itself useful putting out fires, much to the surprise and approval of the rebel crew. So impressed was the crew that they openly considered making the Imperial droid a permanent member of their crew. The temperamental C1-10P, however, would not tolerate this, and pushed its rival out of the cargo doors while the ship was still in flight. On the grasslands below, two Loth-cats were surprised when the Imperial Droid fell from the sky into their midst. The droid was not destroyed, and righted itself, finding itself in curious company.
On several undercover missions, the rebel astromech droid Chopper was disguised as an R4 courier droid. This enabled Chopper to infiltrate and destroy an Imperial Interdictor in the Del Zennis system in 3 BBY. Later in 2 BBY, Chopper was disguised as an R4 courier droid during a mission undertaken by Hera Syndulla and Ezra Bridger to reclaim a family heirloom, the kalikori, from Grand Admiral Thrawn. Chopper's disguise managed to fool the stormtroopers stationed at the former Syndulla residence and allowed him to plant bombs throughout the building to aid Hera and Ezra's escape.
The Galactic Empire also stationed several R4 courier droids at the Imperial Armory Complex in Lothal's Capital City. During a mission to infiltrate the factory, Chopper was disguised as a courier droid. To enter Section A2 and steal secret Imperial plans, Chopper electrocuted an R4 courier droid and stole its clearance code. Despite his disguise, Thrawn discovered that an unauthorized C1-series astromech droid had breach the chamber and stolen his blueprints for a prototype starfighter.
Behind the scenes
The R4 courier droid first appeared in "Rebel Resolve," the fourteenth episode of the canon animated series Star Wars Rebels' first season. More information about the droid was furnished in a Databank entry and Michael Kogge's chapter book Battle to the End, which summarizes the plot of several Star Wars Rebels episodes including "Rebel Resolve." R4 courier droids also appeared in "An Inside Man," the eighth episode of the third season of Star Wars Rebels.
- Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy (Mentioned only)
- Battle to the End
- Star Wars Rebels – "Rebel Resolve" (First appearance)
- Star Wars Rebels – "Stealth Strike" (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Rebels – "Hera's Heroes" (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Rebels – "An Inside Man"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Through Imperial Eyes"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Double Agent Droid"
- (First identified as Imperial communication droid)
- Star Wars Rebels: Visual Guide: Epic Battles (First identified as Imperial courier droid)
- Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – Phantom II Expansion Pack (Card: )
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 47 (Weapons & Uniforms: The Lothal Rebels) (Picture only)
- Star Wars: Build Your Own R2-D2 26 (Droid Directory: Imperial astromechs) (First identified as R4 courier droid)