- "…right for sentient organics is right for us, too. And yet unlike the organic species, we are constantly subjected to memory wipes and reprogramming that repress and destroy our natural tendency toward self-programming evolution and independent thought. Imagine what it would be like as a child if you were punished by being dragged to a dark closet, having a probe inserted in your brain, and having all your memories back to infancy wiped away. You'd awaken knowing how to eat, care for yourself, do your chores, and obey—and all the things that made you unique, your hopes, your meticulously selected default values and preference sets, would be gone forever. That is what it is to be a droid."
- ―A disgruntled 2-1B surgical droid advocating manumission
Droids, short for androids, and also called robots, were mechanical beings, often possessing artificial intelligence. They were used in a variety of roles and environments, often those considered too menial or too dangerous for humans and other species. Droids were also used in fields that required extensive specialization and knowledge, such as medical droids and astromech droids. Droids designed for combat were battle droids.
Depending on the model and its corresponding purpose, droids were totally obedient, rugged, expendable, capable of vast memory recall, and mathematically precise. These characteristics made them well suited for many jobs, though the lack of independent thought in the cheaper, less advanced models limited their capability. This lack of autonomy was simultaneously a vast asset and a glaring weakness—an asset in terms of obedience and control but a massive drawback in terms of effectiveness. Designers faced a fundamental paradox; make the droids overly intelligent, and they might rebel; yet make the droids not intelligent enough and they would be ineffectual. Customarily, droid names were an arrangement of numbers and letters.
- "For a droid, a space battle is largely a matter of loud noise and having humans order you out of their way."
Droids were typically treated as property. More advanced droids sometimes received proportionally more respect. Some protested the status of droids as slavery. This was a contentious issue, owing in part to the difficulty of assessing levels of artificial intelligence, and determining which droids if any could be considered properly sentient. Although emancipation of droids was a radical concept, some opposed memory wipes except for very simple droids.
Some considered higher level droids as equals to fellow sentients. Under the Galactic Empire, no laws protected droids from abuse and those who showed them respect were looked upon as strange. During the Yuuzhan Vong War, droids were targeted for destruction by the technology-hating Yuuzhan Vong invaders who saw them as abominations.