In case you’re not aware, I take my beat as Jalopnik’s Fictitious Robot Chief Reporter very seriously, which is why I’ve been scrutinizing the recent Rogue One trailers so much. First, we’ve identified one known astromech droid, and now we’re introduced to a whole new class of droid. So let’s see what we can figure out about it.
The droid is named K-2S0, and while we’ve seen glimpses of him (he’s voiced by Alan Tudyk, a male, and seems to have “male programming,” so we’ll use that pronoun) in earlier trailers, this recent trailer gives us far more interaction with the droid:
Our pals at iO9 have a great rundown of K-2S0's personality, which seems to be far more no-bullshit and competent than Star Wars most famous humanoid bipedal droid, the fussy, dithering ninny C-3P0.
I’m more interested in K-2S0's technical side right now, so let’s scrutinize his design and see what we can figure out.
First, and most notably, we see that K-2S0 is a humanoid-style droid, meaning he’s roughly designed like a bipedal, two-armed, twin-legged biological human, most likely much like yourself! We’ve certainly seen droids like this before in the series: most famously protocol droids like C-3P0, sometimes medical droids, or even horrible torture droids like EV-9D9, the thing your Roomba has nightmares about.
There’s also literally millions of roughly humanoid-designed droids in the prequels, as the battle droids and super battle droids were all like that.
Making a droid shaped like a humanoid being (even if it’s an alien, you know what I mean) makes sense if one of the criteria of the droid is that it has to use humanoid-designed machinery, pilot humanoid-pilotable vehicles, and generally work with tools designed for humanoid body plans.
Astromech droids, for example, don’t really need to do this, so they tend to be squat cylindrical things to better house their arrays of tools and arms and related appendages.
So, based on this, we know that K-2S0 is designed to work and interact pretty directly with humans, as opposed to around them, like most astromechs.
That leaves one big question, though: why is he so damn big? I think the reason for his size (7'1" tall) is related to his former job, before he was reprogrammed and hired by the rebels: K2 was a security droid/enforcer droid for the Empire.
If you think about it, a security robot needs to be imposing, psychologically, and needs to have the power and related resources to back it up, physically. My guess is his size is a compromise between the need for large, powerful locomotion and manipulation motors, massive power storage equipment, and a heavy, ruggedized chassis, while still being just able to fit in unmodified, humanoid-scaled vehicles and structures.
Looking at K-2S0's design, it’s clear that, unlike shiny, Art Deco-ish droids like C-3P0, there was very little effort expended to design the K-series (if that’s what this is called) aesthetically.
He looks a bit like a lot of industrial robots combined to form a roughly humanoid shape. The shoulder joints, for example, seem to be capable of a full 360° rotation, and are very robust.
His head sort of looks like the Iron Giant, a little bit, with a helmet-like tough outer casing made of the same likely armored material as the rest of his body’s outer shell.
His upper chest area is by far the most massive part about him, and I’d suspect that the bulk of the volume in there is taken up by whatever sort of energy storage system these droids use. In our world, they’d be chemical batteries of some kind, but I’m sure there’s some much better Star Wars equivalent.
There’s a fairly beefy central spine that emerges from the lower part of the thorax and is connected to a V-shaped pelvic joint system. The legs, like the arms, are proportionally quite long and slender, and join to the pelvis via a pair of beefy and complex-looking universal joints of some kind.
The shins and lower legs appear to have some shock-absorption/telescoping capability, which would certainly help in letting the droid land safely after a long fall, or provide the springing to jump quite high. They also may be able to extend or retract to allow the droid to fit into vehicle cockpits easier.
The hands are close enough to human hands to suggest that these droids have no need for specialized weapons or other tools; they likely just use the same mass-produced blasters, for example, as any given stormtrooper or heavily-armed maintenance tech.
I suspect these enforcer droids are capable of folding themselves into fairly small and regularly-shaped bundles, for easy storage and shipping, but I doubt we’ll get to see that in the movies.
Around their backs, they appear to have some antennae that suggest integrated communications equipment, which is a good idea. Something like this should at least be able to be a phone or fax if you need one.
If I had to guess what the vulnerable spots on a droid of this design were, I’d bet the biggest weak link is the neck. Compared to the rest of the droid, it seems pretty thin and unarmored, though its possible the head may be able to retract into the thorax a bit to protect the neck and anchor the thing that seems to house at least the main vision sensors more securely.
K-2S0 looks like he’ll be quite fast, very tough, and likely a pretty lethal fighter. In some ways, he may prove to be the most universally-capable droid we’ve seen in a Star Wars movie. The battle droids were agile, but were idiots, R2-D2 was a remarkable and resourceful droid who saved everyone’s ass multiple times, but a flight of stairs would all but immobilize him. And, of course, C-3P0 and his other protocol droid pals shuffled around like a man on ether with a pantload of piping-hot chili.
This looks like a great new droid character, and, while I’m partial to non-humanoid droids like astromechs myself, I’m excited to see this robot in action.