In Star Wars, when R2-D2 and C-3PO leave in the escape pod, the star destroyer operator says no life forms were detected. Given the technology in the Star Wars universe, I'm surprised they couldn't see that there were two droids, especially since they were both still active. If they were deactivated I could understand. Are there other instances of droids evading scanners in a similar manner?

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    its pretty amazing they let it get away, even without droids, someone could have stowed a usb hard drive with death-star plans and launched it at the planet toward Obi Wan.
    – Doug T.
    Apr 7, 2012 at 1:49
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    I also noticed that no other escape pods were in space, so it seems to have been the only one. You'd think the smart thing to do would be to put a tractor beam on it and bring it back. But then, it'd kinda ruin the movie.
    – xecaps12
    Apr 7, 2012 at 1:51
  • They certainly had sensors in-universe. The droids were scanned and barred from the Mos Eisley cantina. Sep 10, 2012 at 15:34
  • @MichaelItzoe I don't think they were scanned at Mos Eisley. The bartender pointed them out and told Luke that he doesn't server their kind. Jan 1, 2014 at 18:47
  • There's a mechanism on the wall that flashes as Luke and 3PO walk in. I always assumed it to be a scanner to which the bartender was reacting, but maybe it's just the Star Wars equivalent of a bell on a door. Jan 3, 2014 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


If a high ranking imperial officer had been present, this mistake would probably not have taken place. Imperial troops and operators have had a history of being unimaginative throughout the original trilogy*. This is probably because they are usually acting on information provided on a need-to-know basis. It is likely that the mission objectives given to them say nothing about the theft of the Deathstar plans (a fact best kept secret!).


  1. Letting the escape pod go.
  2. Falling for the 'need some help here' call from inside the Millennium Falcon.
  3. Ignoring small fighter assaults on the Deathstar (leaving Vader and his personal squad to engage them).
  4. Trusting two unknown droids during a security breach.

And so on and so forth.

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    +1 for a good in-universe explanation. If very important state secrets are jeopardized, they usually don't tell that to every private soldier. The mission objective was probably something like "arrest the Princess because we suspect she is plotting against our beloved empire", and nothing more.
    – vsz
    Apr 7, 2012 at 7:50
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    In such an authoritarian climate, it seems that thinking for yourself was not only not encouraged, but actively discouraged. "You're not paid to think, you're paid to follow orders." At worst, it's not the individual characters being stupid (not unexpectedly or remarkably so), but their standard operating procedures that were poorly written/implemented.
    – Wolfie Inu
    Oct 21, 2015 at 9:27

Droids are hunks of metal with robotics and circutry. So are spaceships and escape pods. It wouldn't be very easy to pick out a droid from the vessel it's in unless it's in the middle of an empty cargo bay or something, so in the confines of an escape pod you might not be able to distinguish them.

Also note that in that particular situation, the troopers said no "lifeforms" were on board. That tells me they weren't looking for droids; remember they seemed a bit surprised when they found out that there were droid tracks on the surface.

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    I wonder, do droids not emit any signals different from regular electronics? Given the number of droids around, it seems that they'd have developed something to scan for them.
    – xecaps12
    Apr 7, 2012 at 2:21
  • @xecaps12: IMO, the STD was in the middle of a battle, and watching for escaping people, especially Leia. They might have had their scanners set to "Human" and not to "Droid". (OTTOMH, the gunner says "There goes another one!", implying that other escape pods have already been spotted and neutralized.) Dec 15, 2015 at 20:36

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