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In Star Wars franchise, AT-AT walker is described as "All-Terrain Armored Transport". Its primary function is to carry and deploy troops.

But how exactly does it deploy troops? Do they jump out using some equipment that slows down descent? Or does it provide ladders, ramps, etc?

Canon answers preferred, but Legends also acceptable,

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    Now I'm picturing an AT-AT laying down like a camel, front end first. – DavidW Oct 18 at 17:54
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    @DavidW having seen it in the movies, I doubt it would be able to stand up after such move – TimSparrow Oct 18 at 17:56
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    I always thought AT-AT was an odd name - it's nominally a transport vehicle, but you rarely (if ever?) see anyone or anything being loaded, transported, or unloaded. It's usually just used as a primary attack vehicle, despite its moniker. – Nuclear Wang Oct 18 at 17:57
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    @TimSparrow Well, it was a joke. Plus, having watched a camel get up, that looks pretty unlikely too. :) – DavidW Oct 18 at 17:58
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    @NuclearWang Actually, we see people disembark an AT-AT in Return of the Jedi. Luke is in an AT-AT when brought to Vader at the landing site at the sheild generator. There's a bridge that connects to the side. – CBredlow Oct 18 at 18:41
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It depends what source you go with but afaik, an operational deployment method has never been confirmed (or seen) in canon.

A walker's body section can carry 40 fully-armed and battle-ready stormtroopers. To load and disembark troops, the AT-AT kneels by bending its tri-jointed legs and lowering its body to within three meters of the ground. A landing ramp drops from the rear of the vehicle to deploy passengers, in addition, hatches on the flanks are used when docked at Imperial boarding platforms.

Star Wars: RPG Sourcebook

and

In order to release troops, an AT-AT kneels to within three meters off the ground and lowers a rear assault ramp.

The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels

and

AT-AT walkers load and drop the troops they carry by "kneeling" to allow the use of a ramp in the main body. In this way, battle-ready Stormtroopers "hit the ground running," weapons drawn, initially shielded from enemy fire by the massive bulk of the walker above and around them. Side-mounted hatches allow personnel to enter or exit the vehicle via the boarding ramps of Imperial landing platforms.

Star Wars: Technical Journal

and

To deploy its complement of troops, an AT-AT must kneel. With the body still three metres from the ground, ramps are lowered for the 40 troops and four speeder bikes to disembark. It is also possible for the troopers to rappel down drop lines from the AT-AT, though they are very vulnerable doing so.

Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 4

and

ASSAULT CARRIERS

AT-AT walkers can unleash their assault forces in several rapid waves using drop-lines with attached harnesses. Boom racks extend to drop combat troops and equipment over the side. Speeder bikes are deployed using harnesses at front and back.

enter image description here

Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections


As to how they load (and unload) the AT-AT when they have access to a military base, this is accomplished using a loading platform.

enter image description here

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    And here I thought I was making a joke! :) – DavidW Oct 18 at 18:47
  • Dang, beat me by a few seconds! – CBredlow Oct 18 at 18:49
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    @CBredlow - A day late, a dollar short and two sources shy – Valorum Oct 18 at 18:51
  • troops disembarking from the rear of a transport vehicle is fairly standard, but when the vehicle looks like a camel it adds a twist... – JCRM Oct 21 at 9:12
  • @DavidW - In the movies it does kind of seem to have the shifting gait of a camel. Perhaps that was actually the inspiration for the AT-AT in the first place. – T.E.D. Oct 21 at 15:53
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Others have already cited the Star Wars: Incredible Cross-sections books.

I'm sure this question has been asked before, and there's some descriptions in the novels where they kneel down to unload both the troops and the speeder bikes in the back. From memory this was in Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson.

The Star Wars: Empire at War games show the unloading of troops: the walker takes a wide stance with the front legs forward and the rear legs backward, and the stormtroopers rappel out of the belly: I seem to remember some criticism of the game that while this deployment method was inspired by Luke using his ascension gun and lightsaber in ESB, it was impractical for the troops to deploy in this way since there's no hatches there (and the area is between the legs, where the motors/actuators are).

Empire at War: Walker Unloading

The Hasbro 2010 AT-AT toy had the side of the model open up with a platform and hook for figures to rappel down on, although how much this toy represents canonical accuracy is perhaps a different topic.

Hasbro 2010 AT-AT

  • I can't find that quote in Dark Apprentice – Valorum Oct 19 at 5:30
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    You get my +1 for images that show the disembarkation of troops in a battlefield context. – Valorum Oct 19 at 5:42
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    I have seen another toy years ago and the scale was also problematic. The soldier was so large there was space for 2 or 3 inside and the side flap was how they were squashed in. – KalleMP Oct 19 at 10:39
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According the the Star Wars: Incredible Cross-sections book, the AT-AT can

Unleash their assault forces in several waves using drop-lines with attached harnesses. Boom racks extend to drop troops and equipment over the side.

In Return of the Jedi, we also see an AT-AT carrying Luke to the shield generator to meet with Vader, and they disembark from the side.

enter image description here enter image description here

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