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R2-D2 was a mech. droid. Why did R2-D2 have the ability to record & project holograms?

It does not seem to be for R2 to communicate. R2 was able to communicate with other entities in different ways:

  • Aural beeps and chirps for the living beings around him (and droids like 3PO that understood the chatter).
  • With other machines via a seemingly standardised physical plug-in (what, no wireless connectivity in the galaxy far, far away?).

In any case, I can't recall evidence of R2 actually being able to generate a hologram, just record and replay them, which would make him more an 'answering machine' than a droid that uses holograms to communicate.

Why did R2-D2 (or BB-8 for that matter) have this ability to record & project holograms?

  • 3
    Because there'd be no movies if he didn't. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 27 '16 at 4:48
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    I'd speculate that in the event of an unknown new ship in the vicinity, the astromech droids could record images of it and it be used for intelligence. No evidence of this, but a potential use for the feature. – gabe3886 Apr 27 '16 at 10:11
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    Maybe to show schematics when a mechanic is working on a craft? – Dan Shaffer Apr 27 '16 at 13:02
  • If R2D2 is the narrator of the story, then it's to frame himself with more importance :) io9.gizmodo.com/… – Josh Apr 28 '16 at 13:32
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I'm not sure whether there is a canon answer, but I can think of one rather simple reason.

Projecting starmaps

This is, in fact, exactly what R2-D2 used its hologram system for in The Force Awakens.

Indeed, there is ample evidence from the films that droids frequently pilot spacecraft:

enter image description here

...including R2D2 in particular. After all, the R2 series are astromech droids.

While the droids are usually the ones flying the ship, one could easily easily conceive of situation where they need to discuss a route with their (likely biological) co-pilot. With a projector system, they can project a hologram into or in front of the ship, so that everyone else can see where they are going, or perhaps choose a route.

There is another possibility.

General-purpose

If you have a smartphone, it may well be able to detect changes in altitude, pressure, and temperature. It may have a great number of useless apps. Yet the vast majority of users will never need to use these features. They are there because they help the phone sell well, or because they have become standard on smartphones.

Droids might be similar. Perhaps the ability to project holograms is an advertising point, or a useless feature, separate from utility for a given droid.

  • 1
    I am more convinced by your 'General-purpose' argument, but either way, nice work. :) – Andrew Thompson Apr 28 '16 at 5:02
  • I too love projecting holograms from my smartphone. – WorseDoughnut Apr 29 '16 at 14:04

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