- "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 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's popularity was equal with Galactic Republic fighter jocks as 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. The unit could store up to ten sets of hyperspace vector coordinates in its astrogation buffer, 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 700 different spacecraft configurations. 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 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, an electric arc welder, circular saw, computer scomp link arm, VicksVisc holographic recorder/projector unit, internal cargo compartment, and a general-use fire extinguisher. 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.
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 Artoo 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 Artoo-Detoo's heroics in its HoloNet advertisements released after the fall of the Galactic Empire for fear of alienating New Republic leaders.