- "Ladies and gentlemen, there may be some turbulence up ahead; make sure your seatbelts are fastened!"
- ―RX-24, on Star Tours Flight 45 to Endor
RX-Series pilot droids were a line of droids designed and manufactured by the companies Industrial Automaton and Reubens Robotic Systems. With a squat, cylindrical chassis that terminated in a flared repulsorlift base for locomotion, RX-Series pilot droids used their three clawed limbs to manipulate starship controls and fly vessels. Units commonly featured brushed metal chassis with colored accents. A helmet-like head topped each RX pilot droid, and a humanoid faceplate—sporting two glowing photoreceptors and a speaker—enabled the droids to more easily interact with organics. RX units were capable of operating independently to pilot starships, especially in tasks that organic pilots found too dull or repetitive to bother with, such as docking and undocking spacecraft, maneuvering cargo between vessels, and piloting passenger craft along well-traveled hyperlanes. The droids' programming also made them apt copilots and support personnel. They were renowned for their toughness and reliability, although when an RX-Series droid failed, it did so spectacularly. A heuristic processor afforded RX units the ability to creatively solve problems, and when spared from memory wipes, they tended to develop chipper personalities that allowed them to better interface with living beings.
Industrial Automaton and Reubens Robotic Systems introduced the RX-Series pilot droid to the galactic market by approximately 22 BBY. The companies' goal was to create a hybrid astromech–protocol droid that could not only assist in spaceship piloting and maintenance but also easily interface with organics. The droids proved a success, with most spaceports purchasing a few RX units from the line. RX droids saw service during the Clone Wars, as when the Galactic Republic Commander Griebs Kishpaugh employed the unit Z-37 to pilot his shuttle. The Star Tours passenger liner service purchased a crew of RX-Series droids to pilot its StarSpeeder 3000 spacecraft on its short-lived service to the Forest Moon of Endor. One of those droids, designated RX-24, piloted the initial Star Tours Flight 45 to Endor, but the novice's errors sent his craft through a series of misadventures before returning safely to their point of departure.
- "I'm experiencing some minor technical difficulties... difficulties... difficulties…"
- ―RX-24, upon his first arrival to the Star Tours travel agency
RX-Series pilot droids shared at least some features in common with the R-series astromech droids produced by Industrial Automaton, such as a cylindrical body. However, whereas an astromech droid body was a single width and terminated in three wheeled legs, the RX pilot droid featured three wide, disc-like sections separated by accordion connecting material and a narrow base that flared out to form a repulsorlift platform. This base afforded RX droids the ability to hover and move at the speed of an average Human at a run. The RX-Series pilot droid manipulated starship controls and other elements of its environment with three clawed appendages; the multiple limbs also made such droid pilots more versatile than humanoids, with only two fine manipulators. Of the droid's arms, the topmost attached at the left side of the first major body section under the head, the second attached to the right of the middle body section, and the third attached to the right side of the accordion-like base. The arms were articulated in three places: the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. The two right-hand limbs ended in pincer-like gold claws, while the leftmost manipulator featured a thick third digit as well.
The RX head could swivel along a wide arc, and sufficiently modified, it could be slotted into the chassis of an astromech model, such as the P2-series. It was more humanoid than that of Industrial Automaton's astromech lines. The head was roughly semi-circular, shaped like a domed helmet. Toward the droid's anterior, the head flattened into a face that sported two photoreceptors—colored blue or gold—and a round speaker. Spaced like humanoid eyes, the photoreceptors shone a bright white when illuminated; they blinked on and off and the speaker flashed when an RX unit talked. An RX droid could lower a retractable, hinged visor over its photoreceptors. Each RX droid sported a circle, divided into eight sectors, on each side of the head.
Common color combinations for RX-Series droids featured brushed metal for most parts of the droid, accented by gold claws, a gold section at the top half of the face, a gold speaker, and a gold neck ring. Accents in another color were also common, including purple and red. Another color scheme made the entire droid gold. The connecting material between body sections was black. The visor could be purple, red, or gold.
- "Star Tours is proud to introduce the Starspeeder 3000, the most advanced transport of its kind in existence. With high-speed warp drive and a travel range of over one billion light years, the Starspeeder makes touring the galaxy safe and comfortable. And all of our Starspeeders are piloted by the newest, most relliable RX droids. So you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights. Whenever your plans call for intergalactic travel, call on the best: Star Tours."
- ―Spaceport announcement before the departure of Star Tours Flight 45 to Endor
The RX-Series pilot droid was a second-degree droid, a type intended to assist organic beings with spaceflight and vehicle or starship maintenance. They were designed to serve both as copilots for organics, and as primary pilots in jobs that were too dull and routine for living beings, such as moving supplies from ship to ship and maneuvering docked starships. They had a reputation for reliability and durability, since they required only a minimal amount of maintenance. Nevertheless, RX units tended to fail spectacularly in those rare instances when they did break down. Another common use for the droids was to conduct passenger flights along well-traveled routes; tourism agencies in particular employed RX droids in this capacity. The repulsorlift base allowed an RX pilot droid to hover at the level of a starship's controls, where it could employ its three manipulators to operate the vessel. Other programmed skills included basic starship maintenance, computer use, and knowledge of galactic astrography. Although generally not intended for combat, they were able to fire starship weapons and evade attacking vessels when necessary, tasks for which their innate dexterity came into play. Although slightly less perceptive than Humans and similar species on the whole, the RX units' sophisticated photoreceptors afforded them keen vision that allowed them to easily distinguish starships in area around them.
Each unit came equipped with a heuristic processor, which allowed it to learn and to solve problems creatively. The RX-Series were made to interact with living beings, so they had generally amicable personalities; especially if their owners chose not to wipe their memories, RX-Series droids tended to develop personalities more readily than other droids and could become quite charismatic and adventuresome. However, their memory banks required periodic maintenance to purge them of corrupt and disorganized data. They had a vocabulator to facilitate communication. By default, the droids spoke Basic and Binary. RX-Series pilot droids were capable of defending themselves with their clawed limbs if threatened, although such attacks did only minimal damage. Otherwise, their design afforded them strength close to that of most humanoid species.
Some owners—especially those not keen to entrust piloting to an automaton but still eager to take advantage of the RX's capabilities—modified their RX units to serve as astrogation droids. Such tinkering required the installation of an astrogation buffer and, in some instances, a scomp link to allow the RX droid to directly connect to a navicomputer, access hyperspace coordinates, and shave time off lightspeed jumps. RX droids modified in this manner sometimes received a hypertransceiver to permit them to plot the hyperspace course through a direct HoloNet connection. Such modification required additional programming to improve the RX's adeptness at using computers. Another modification altered the RX to serve as a communications droid, making the unit act like a communications terminal for the owner. Such alteration required that an internal comlink be added to the droid and routed through the droid's vocabulator and audio receptors to allow the ship's captain to use the droid to hail other vessels. The typical range for a droid thus modified was generally 200 kilometers, unless the owner added a hypertransceiver as well. A final type of modification turned the RX into a tactical systems droid, able to manipulate the ship's onboard systems to maximize performance. Such a change entailed replacing one clawed appendage with a Human-like hand, affording more fine motor coordination to manipulate on-board utilities. As an alternative, the addition of a scomp link permitted the droid to jack directly into the ship's systems. To be truly effective as tactical systems units, RX droids also needed an upgraded sensor package. Some owners opted to replace piloting-related programming to make room for such modifications.
- "Hey, sorry, folks. I'm sure to do better next time… It was my first flight, and I'm still getting used to my programming!"
- ―RX-24, at the end of Star Tours Flight 45
The RX-Series hit the galactic market by approximately 22 BBY. Both Reubens Robotic Systems and Industrial Automaton (IA) were companies involved in the design and manufacture of the droids. IA in particular designed the RX-Series to bridge the gap between the astromech and protocol droid markets by not only programming them to pilot vehicles but also providing them with the capacity to interface directly with passengers. To that end, IA's designers chose to replace the dome-shaped head common among astromech droids with a more humanoid head to which organics could better relate. The droids retailed for between 7,300 and 9,855, and most spaceports purchased at least a few RX-Series droids to help move docked starships, pilot supply skiffs, and take chartered flights through well-traveled regions. Other customers could purchase the droids with a proper license.
Around 22 BBY, during the Clone Wars, Commander Griebs Kishpaugh of the Galactic Republic employed an RX-Series droid designated Z-37. When a group of clone troopers under Kishpaugh's command were shot down on the planet Oznek, they traveled by foot to their target, a power plant run by the Confederacy of Independent Systems—unbeknownst to them, Kishpaugh had one of the clones, codenamed "Ghost," act as his personal agent to destroy the power plant and anger the inhabitants of Oznek into joining the Confederacy, with whom the Commander was secretly aligned. However, trooper CT-7719 discovered the ruse, killed Ghost, and impersonated him in an encounter with Kishpaugh aboard the Commander's shuttle. During their encounter, Kishpaugh accidentally shot and destroyed the RX-Series droid before it could launch the craft and allow its master to escape. During the same conflict, the astromech droid R2-D2 reprogrammed an RX-Series pilot droid's memory banks to purge them of corruption and disorganization. A few years later, in 19 BBY, the Rodian technician Geri and his team salvaged an RX-Series head and fitted it to a P2-series droid chassis. The resulting hybrid, named Candy, aided the Rodian in his shop on the planet Toprawa.
The Jawa trader Klikk knew of an RX-Series droid that had a spectacular malfunction on the planet Naboo. Its owner had just stepped down from a starship boarding ramp when the RX flew away with the ship. The Naboo system observation post launched starfighters to stop the wayward automaton, but they failed to catch it before the ship jumped to hyperspace, its course consistent with hyperlanes leading to the planets Bothawui, Nal Hutta, and Rodia.
RX droids were frequently used as pilots by space tourism companies. Indeed, the Star Tours travel agency used them aboard their StarSpeeder 1000 passenger transports, and later StarSpeeder 3000s, as early as 1 BBY. The company's first shipment of RX-Series droids were defective, but rather than return them, Star Tours opted to have its in-house repair droids fix them back up. One droid form this shipment was RX-24. RX-24, nicknamed "Rex," was repaired in house by 4.3 ABY, when he was tasked with conducting the maiden voyage of the Star Tours agency's new StarSpeeder 3000 passenger starship to the Forest Moon of Endor. The flight nearly proved disastrous when the droid's beginner's mistakes brought the starship into the midst of a field of icy comets, a battle between New Republic and Imperial forces, and an attack run on an Imperial battlestation. Nevertheless, Rex's deft piloting allowed him to escape the perils into which his inexperience had cast him and his passengers. Within a few months of Rex's flight, the Star Tours travel agency was driven out of business by similar accidents and poor management. Besides RX-24, two other RX-Series pilot droids existed during the early stages of the Galactic Civil War: RX-23, a red-colored RX-Series pilot droid, and HHG-RX, the latter of whom spent most of his time hitch-hiking at Spaceport THX1138.
Behind the scenesEdit
- "Is Star Tours basically like a commercial flight simulator?"
"Well, it is like that. But this is a little more adventurous than that. Most airline simulators don't have the problems that Rex, our pilot, has… considering this is his first flight."
- ―An audience member and George Lucas at the Star Tours opening press conference, January 9, 1987
RX-24, the first RX-Series droid in Star Wars canon, was designed as the pilot for the joint Lucasfilm Ltd.–Walt Disney Company attraction Star Tours, for Disney's Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. Because the ride was designed as a spaceflight simulator, the creative team decided to tailor the ride experience to being on a passenger liner, with all action experienced in the first person. Such a premise necessitated the creation of a relatable narrator and guide to engage the audience throughout the ride's duration. Star Wars creator George Lucas suggested that a droid pilot might be able to serve that function, and he proposed a droid version of the skippers of the Jungle Cruise ride in Disneyland's Adventureland area in the 1980s; the droid version would be a sardonic Clone Wars veteran. Tony Baxter, the director of the ride's development, suggested instead that the droid be more nervous than cynical, a jumpy neophyte pilot whose errors set the conflict of the story in motion. The team developed the idea into Captain Rex.
Based on preliminary ideas from Lucas, Disney Imagineer Chris Runco created a prototype Rex puppet in green foam. Larry Sheldon and Lance Updyke, two other ride designers, then crafted the Rex puppets from aluminum based on Runco's design. Four separate animatronic Rexes were created to man each of the four different StarSpeeder 3000s available to visitors to the Star Tours ride when it opened in 1987. As the attraction was recreated and expanded upon in various Disney theme parks, further RX-24 pilots were constructed as well.
For years, Rex remained the only droid of his kind in Star Wars continuity. In 2008, however, the Scum and Villainy sourcebook for the Saga Edition of the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Roleplaying Game presented the RX-Series pilot droid as a product line manufactured by Industrial Automaton—and as a possible character choice for players of the game. However, the 2008 compendium The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia makes no mention of IA and instead states that RX-24 was manufactured by Reubens Robotic Systems. 2009's Scavenger's Guide to Droids includes an expanded description of the RX-Series and supports Scum and Villainy's attribution of the model to IA. This article assumes that both companies had some role in the history of the line's manufacture. RX-Series pilot droids have also featured in non–Star Tours sources. The mini-game "Droid Programming," part of the massively multiplayer online game Clone Wars Adventures, features an RX unit in the level "Delete Type." In that stage, the player attempts to clear a screen of color blocks, which represent the memory banks of the RX-Series droid. The 2012 graphic novella The Clone Wars: The Enemy Within, written by Jeremy Barlow, features the RX-Series droid Z-37.
In 2005, Lucasfilm and Disney set out to update Star Tours, setting the new version of the ride in the time period between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Because Rex had stated that he was undertaking his first flight in the original ride, set much later in the Star Wars timeline, the Lucasfilm–Disney team created a new droid pilot, AC-38, for the revamped attraction. Nevertheless, the designers placed several RX-Series pilot droids along the queuing area beside crates. Most bear stickers marking them as "defective," and one—RX-24 himself—sparks at the neck and mutters lines from the original attraction. The attraction opened to the public in 2011.
- The Clone Wars: The Enemy Within
- Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – "Droid Programming"
- The Last Jedi (Head)
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- Star Tours (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- "Star Tours: Taking Off on a Star Tour"—Star Wars Insider 104
- Scum and Villainy
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 117 ("RX-24 (Rex)")
- Scavenger's Guide to Droids
- "The Incredible Journey"—Star Wars Insider 127 (Picture only)
- (Picture only)
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Scum and Villainy, p. 96
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 117 ("RX-24")
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 The Clone Wars: The Enemy Within
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Star Tours
- ↑ 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 Scavenger's Guide to Droids, p. 132
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Scavenger's Guide to Droids, p. 133
- ↑ 9.0 9.1
- ↑ 10.0 10.1
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 The Last Jedi, Chapter 6
- ↑ Scavenger's Guide to Droids, p. 10
- ↑ Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition Core Rulebook, pp. 190–191
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – "Droid Programming"
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 189 ("Star Tours Travel Agency")
- ↑ The Alliance to Restore the Republic had transitioned to become the New Republic by 4.3 ABY according to The New Essential Chronology, p. 131.
- ↑ Endor and the Moddell Sector"—Star Wars Gamer 9, p. 28 "
- ↑ Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (Tokyo version)
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 21.2 "Star Tours: Taking Off on a Star Tour"—Star Wars Insider 104, p. 56
- ↑ "Star Tours: Taking Off on a Star Tour"—Star Wars Insider 104, p. 61
- ↑ The Cinema of George Lucas, p. 152
- ↑ "Star Tours: Taking Off on a Star Tour"—Star Wars Insider 104, p. 62
- ↑ "Star Tours: Taking Off on a Star Tour"—Star Wars Insider 104, p. 57
- ↑ "Star Tours: Taking Off on a Star Tour"—Star Wars Insider 104, p. 58
- ↑ "The Incredible Journey"—Star Wars Insider 127, p. 48
- ↑ "The Incredible Journey"—Star Wars Insider 127, p. 49
- ↑ Eric (January 18, 2011). "Latest News - Star Tours Returns Starting May 20th". TheForce.Net. Retrieved on August 30, 2012.