- "A droid for every purpose"
- — Industrial Automaton slogan
Industrial Automaton was one of the major droid manufacturers throughout 2490 and 2550, and is still prominent to this day, but have been overshadow in recent years by other bigger companies. It is a company specializing in droids for all trades and walks of life. Its most popular products are the R-series astromech droids, in particular the versatile R2-series.
Industrial Automaton was originally founded in 2480 by childhood friends, Kenneth G Daniels and Anthony Baker. The company became vastly wealthy and mostly controlled the droid market for several years thanks to its high-precision merchandise and deep discounts.
Industrial Automaton came to monopolize the droid market through production of its most popular creation; the R-series astromech droids. While early models are deemed a critical failure, IA's R2-series astro-droid became beloved across the galaxy. The success of the R2 led to further R-series models, including the R4 units often used as navigators and the advanced R7 and R8 models. While these designs proved successful, others were not so well received; Industrial Automaton was forced to cancel production of its R5-series droids after poor sales.
Industrial Automaton was one of the many companies that descented on Pandora after Exon's departure of the planet. They would sell their droids to locals of the planet or other companies to help harvest resources. When they were forced off the planet by its wildlife, many of Industrial Automatons droids were left on the planet, with many still there to this day being used and sold by Jawas and the few none hostile communities.
Despite these minor setbacks, Industrial Automaton remained a constant presence in the droid market, thanks not only to its astromech designs, but also to the rest of its varied production line. Ranging from protocol droids, labour droids, security droids and targeting computers, that were powered by droid brains.
In more resent years Industrial Automaton has been mostly silent, with them mostly focusing on distributing and upgrading their current R-series astromech droids. However they recently brought a new line of droid to the market, the BB-series, though time will tell if this series does well or not.
An astromech droid, sometimes shortened to just an astromech and also referred to as an astro droid, are a type of droid that serve as an automated mechanic, performing a variety of repair duties and often serving as an adjunct or substitute for a nav computer on smaller starships. Astromech droids could also use the mainframes of larger ships to their advantage. Some have even been known to use them as co-pilots for fighters. The astromech droids created by Industrial Automaton are comprised of the R-series.
The R-series was an incredible developmental project, setting several standards and paradigms that other astromech droids would later adhere to, such as being compatible with both starships and fighters and having immense aftermarket upgrade and modification abilities. Many astromech droids are about 0.93 meters tall in average, while R-series droids from the R2-line forward had a height of just over a meter. They are very common throughout the galaxy and by far the most famous and popular astromech droid series. There are 9 models in the R-series, those being:
R1-series astromech droid - The R1-series astromech droid was Industrial Automaton's first production model of their new consumer-market R-series astromech droid line. The R1-series integrated and improved on the various prototype droid models. To save on research, development, and retooling costs, Industrial Automaton reused the jet black body shells from its long running Mark II reactor drone. The dense shielding of the heavy shell gave the R1 protection against intense radiation. The droid moved about via a tracked uni-pod, which was slow and often malfunctioned, causing a frequent lack of locomotion. The centre of the R1's design was the Intellex III computer brain, which contained a comprehensive catalogue of 500 starship configurations. In addition, the R1 was the first Industrial Automaton astromech able to calculate complex navigational coordinates necessary to complete a single hyperspace jump.
Due to its cumbersome size, although the R1 was still an adequate improvement over the Mark II, R1s were commonly stationed aboard capital ships and large freighters. The droid's array of retractable tools made the droids useful technicians, but owners often complained of their obstinate personalities and unreliable method of locomotion. Industrial Automaton promised to address all these issues in their next model, the R2-series.
The recycled construction of the R1 did not give off the impression of sophisticated electronics, but Industrial Automaton did use the model to introduce Binary to the market, which became the standard for all inter-droid communications, which caused the R1 to have a lasting impact on the droid market.
R2-series astromech droid - The R2-series astromech droid was Industrial Automaton second attempt at an astromech droid, 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.
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.
When plugged into a 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.
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. As well, Industrial Automaton 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.
R3-series astromech droid - The R3 came at the heels of IA's blockbuster launch of the R2-series astromech droid as the company rushed to capitalize on their new dominance of the maintenance and repair droid market. The R3's designers copied the R2's general aesthetic, including the bright, contrasting colour trim on a white metal chassis. The obvious difference in the factory unit was its head: the R2's opaque dome was swapped for a clear dome of plastex or transparisteel. The transparency gave the droid's internal sensor package greater range and showcased the R3's other major distinction, its newly updated Intellex V computer brain. Over time, however, some units' original domes were replaced with opaque ones or painted over carelessly.
Unlike its predecessor, the R3 was designed specifically for use by militaries and high-tech government agencies. The R3's Intellex V was capable of housing an immense amount of data; those units bought by the Unified Earth Government had a database of detailed specifications on every vessel in the UNSC Navy. Armed with this information, the R3 worked in cooperation with gunnery crews, security troopers, and naval chiefs of operation aboard capital warships and at battlestations. Though its primary function was as a capital ship astromech, it could still operate as a plug-in droid for starfighters, holding up to five hyperspace jump coordinates in its astrogation buffer. The R3 had a genial and chummy personality, which allowed it to coordinate easily with large crews of organics.
Due to the sensitive nature of the R3's programming, the rather expensive model was sold only to recognized government militaries. Nevertheless, R3 units found their way into the hands of pirates, bounty hunters, insurrectionists, and other groups through various black market channels.
The R3-series astromech droid featured much of the same hardware as its predecessor, the R2 unit, lacking only the earlier droid's extendible video sensor.
R4-series agromech droid - 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 hover car 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 neck, 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 street vehicle 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.
Mass-market buyers liked the R4, as did the rebels of the Insurrection. They reasoned that no one would be suspicious of a mass purchase of agromech 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 Insurrectionists, and soon the droids' conical heads were familiar sights in Insurrectionist bases and other rebel hangers.
R5-series astromech droid - The R5-series astromech droid was a line of low cost astromech droids built by Industrial Automaton. Based upon the success of prior astromech models, such as the wildly popular R2-series, Industrial Automaton intended the R5-series to cater to budget buyers at the cost of some functionality.
Because of their inexpensive construction, however, droids of this series were plagued by a number of design flaws—most obviously, a sullen demeanour and sharp attitude resulting from deficiencies in the machine's personality matrix. Media outlets soon picked up on these errors: Mechtech Illustrated called the R5 model "a meter-tall stack of the worst business decisions you could possibly want."
After a particularly poor sales year, Industrial Automaton discontinued the R5 series. To cover losses, the droid manufacturing firm repackaged R2-series and R4-series droids in excess R5 shells. Due to their design problems, a number of R5 units are ownerless, unwanted, and otherwise abandoned on random planets or staion. Sometimes these droids fell in to the hands of various pirate groups, who would fit weapons such as blasters to their domes.
R6-series astromech droid - The R6-series astromech droid was the sixth astromech droid model made by Industrial Automaton under their R-series of droids. The R6 was IA's attempt at repairing their own reputation after the tremendous failure that was their R5 series. To prove that each new series beyond their famous R2-series would not be inferior, the designers of the R6 took their time in working out every problem and glitch that plagued the previous model. After years in planning, IA released the R6 model with obvious intent to try and recapture the hearts of their consumers.
The R6 series has many things in common with the older yet still popular R2 series, which goes to show what Industrial Automaton's engineers had in mind. Originally IA planned on releasing their military model that would be made exclusively for newest generation of starfighters. But as it would take some year before these fighters were ready for combat, IA felt it an opportune time to reach out to civilian buyers once more. With a winning design and eager consumers IA made sure the R6 would sell by giving their shelf models a somewhat auspicious price tag. It was more expensive than the R5 and R4-series, which also had less dynamic goals in mind, but was less expensive than the price of the R2 series upon its original release.
For a time the R6-series were "selling like hotcakes". Although R2-series astromech droid had better sales than the R6, the latter still was a profitable model and was competitive in terms of sale with the former.
Though the conical-frustum style of the head was like that of the R5 (which gave consumers a scare at first glance) rather than the classic dome, that was where the similarities ended. The R6 had the same kind of "do it all" attitude in its programming and array of gadgets reminiscent of the veteran R2 units, but with updates to key systems such as its sensor package and processor. The standard R6 could store 12 hyperspace jump coordinates in its astrogation buffer and had many of the tools and compartments that was found lacking on earlier models that were not intended for serious space service. Though the R6 offered little in the way of innovation it supplied the demand left hollow in loyal IA consumers.
R7-series astromech droid - The R7-series astromech droid was an astromech droid produced during one of the galaxies galactic conflicts. The R7-series was designed specifically for the newer generation of starfighters and managed to cash in on the ongoing conflict at the time.
Development of the R7-series was a corporate secret, occurring during the media blitz that surrounded production of the R6-series astromech droid. The R7-unit featured two fixed, wheeled legs and a third retractable leg, and were heavily shielded against electrical discharges. These droids were primarily used onboard newer starfighters nd required significant modification to work effectively with older models of starfighters. A typical R7 unit could hold up to fifteen hyperspace jump coordinates in its astrogation buffer and survive a near miss from an plasma cannon.
Though Industrial Automaton’s initial release of the highly specialized R7 droid was a moderate success, thanks to ongoing war at the time of its release, the R7 line of droids eventually and inevitably became obsolete when factions began phasing out their current starfighters for newer models. And thus was eventually replaced with the R-8 model.
R8-series astromech droid The R8-series astromech droid was the 8th model in the R-series and is the only R-series astromech to not have a sensor "eye", and instead featured a miniature satellite dish on its dome.
During development, it was rumoured that the R8 unit would be the first Industrial Automaton astro-droid to speak english, though the final product communicated in binary. It came with a full-frequency comm system as standard equipment, making it (along with the venerable R2 astromech unit) a recommended choice for those needing long-range comm interface capabilities.
The R8 was designed to have the piloting power of the R7’s without focusing on just the last generation of starfighters, s well as having the usefulness, versatility, and most of all, customizability of the previous R-series droids. The R8 was better with repairs, navigation, and piloting than any other R-series droid, and provided far-superior software customizability. Additionally, in times of emergency, the R8 was actually capable of piloting small craft and mid-sized craft with a great deal of skill directly from its astromech socket or while connected to a computer terminal, though dynamic piloting and intuitive thinking was still a stretch. Similarly, to the interest smugglers, pirates, and others who may appreciate it, an R8 was capable of manning the weaponry of smaller ships, with capabilities possibly even matching an organic crew member. Externally, the R8 resembled any R-series droid. However, in keeping with the “return to their roots” slogan, the R8 head was once again dome shaped, like that of the R2-series. Instead of the metal shell of previous models, the head and body of R8 droids were composed of frosted plasteel, with “gel” style plasteel colouring for aesthetic purposes. Thus far, much like its R6 predecessor, the R8 has sold incredibly well. However, before Industrial Automaton announced the new model, it ventured a major risk in over-producing the required parts for the R8. The gamble had paid off in spades.
R9-series astromech droid - The R9-series astromech droid is the newest in Industrial Automaton's line of R-series astromech droids. The R9-series was similar to its previous R-series models, but R9 droids were notorious for self-enhancing their preservation routines, even if it meant hiding data from their owners. Like most other astromechs, the R9 excelled as in-flight navigators and mechanics aboard starships.
The BB-Series is Industrial Automatons brand new droid on the market, and is the first astromech droid they've created that is not an R-series. Because of past failures with astromech droids, the BB-series was a huge financial risk on IA's part, so they designed the droid to have a domed head to mimic that of the beloved R2-unit to hopefully cash in on peoples nostalgia.
Unlike previous astromechs, the BB-series is mounted on a very durable spherical body, making it smaller than other astromeches at 0.67 meters, however this also allows it to move on terrains easier and to make it impossible for the droid to tip over on shaky starships and become inoperable. Within the orb itself contains multiple compartments that contain things such as tasers, welding torches, grappling wires and holo-projectors, among other things.
BB-series have skittish personalities and are very loyal to their operators. They are somewhat unpredictable: While most droids are predictable to certain stereotypes (bossy, sullen, grumpy) within their respective programming, each BB unit is its own case, sometimes childlike, sometimes precocious.