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In “A New Hope” Luke lets C-3PO, a protocol droid he just bought the day before, drive the landspeeder on their search to find R2-D2.

Is there any good reasoning involved?

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Luke was using his binoculars to try to find R2-D2. It was easier for him to search for R2 while someone else drove.

C-3PO is not limited to simply translating and spouting protocol, he can perform other tasks as well...one of them being the ability to drive.

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    C-3PO == Google Translate + Google Car – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 25 '12 at 16:18
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    He's just translating to the protocol the car uses. He does say he's skilled in the binary language of moisture vaporators. Why not a landspeeder? – Gabe Willard Oct 25 '12 at 17:00
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    Protocol Droids have been seen doing many tasks such as waiting tables, cleaning, mechanical repair, etc. While translation is its main purpose, it seems that Protocol droids are also more of a general purpose droid. – Jared Tritsch Oct 25 '12 at 17:09
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    I never noticed that before. Interestingly enough, there's a deleted scene that makes it even more obvious that 3PO is driving: galactic-voyage.com/… – Force Flow Oct 25 '12 at 23:14
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There seem to be a number of reasons why C-3PO was piloting the speeder:

  • Luke wanted to see if he could do it (curiosity)

Luke leaned back in the seat, luxuriating in unaccustomed relaxation as Threepio skillfully directed the powerful landcraft around dunes and rocky outcrops. “You handle a landspeeder pretty well, for a machine,” he noted admiringly.

“Thank you, sir,” a gratified Threepio responded, his eyes never moving from the landscape ahead. “I was not lying to your uncle when I claimed versatility as my middle name. In fact, on occasion I have been called upon to perform unexpected functions in circumstances which would have appalled my designers.”

Star Wars: A New Hope - Official Novelisation

  • Luke wanted to pay close attention to the "metal scanner"

But something more important than fixing responsibility for the little robot’s disappearance was on Luke’s mind at the moment. “Wait a minute,” he advised Threepio as he stared fixedly at the instrument panel. “There’s something dead ahead on the metal scanner. Can’t distinguish outlines at this distance, but judging by size alone, it could be our wandering ’droid. Hit it.”

Star Wars: A New Hope - Official Novelisation

  • Because C-3PO offered to do it.

But it hadn’t been Luke’s idea to put C-3PO in the driver’s seat. Since piloting ground-effect vehicles was one of C-3PO’s secondary programs, he had offered to take the controls so Luke would be free to scan for R2-D2’s tracks. Luke had agreed.

Star Wars: A New Hope - Junior novelisation

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