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In Return of the Jedi, Luke engineers his escape/rescue mission by planning ahead and storing his lightsaber in R2D2's chassis.

How, exactly, does he accomplish this without Jabba's security noticing? I would assume that any droid employed at Jabba's palace or on his sail barge would be fitted with a restraining bolt, but that by no means assures that the droid is safe.

Wouldn't the guards do some sort of security scan, to check for concealed weapons, explosives, etc.? Especially since the two droids literally walked up to the front door and announced that they were gifts. Jabba doesn't really strike me as the trusting type, nor is his business the type where I would expect him to last very long without fairly strict security (bounty hunters walking in the door with thermal detonators notwithstanding).

Is there any canon/Legends explanation for how R2D2 was able to show up without anyone noticing a Jedi weapon in a launcher housed inside of him?

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    At a guess, a lightsaber is such an esoteric weapon that it probably didn't register as a weapon on Jabba's security scans.
    – Martha
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 20:35
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    I'm pretty sure R2 did have a restraining bolt put on him there. And to back up Martha, in the EU, Wedge Antilles asked Luke about getting his through security and Luke said it doesn't register as a weapon on scanners, it mostly shows up similar to an electric razor.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 9, 2013 at 21:15
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    Jabba's overseer droid explicitly ordered C3PO to be fitted with a restraining bolt, it would be surprising if he didn't do the same for R2D2. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 22:43
  • Non- activated lightsaber - power source, control circuitry, assorted capacitors, transformers, circuits..... that would register, as opposed to a droids normal innards, as different? It might no stand out, upon a cursory scan. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 19:53
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    R2D2 is 40% light sabers.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 20:44

2 Answers 2

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A case of hiding in plain sight and using your enemies preconceived notions against them. Deception is a powerful tool to a weak mind.

  • Few expect a Jedi to WANT to come to Jabba's palace. Even fewer are expected to try a rescue. So a lightsaber is low on the list of things you would be looking for. Bounty hunters, rogue droids, high quality explosives (and their corresponding signatures) would be MUCH higher on the list since Jabba works and deals primarily with less savory types for a living.

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  • The relatively unsophisticated lightsaber consists mostly of crystals, alignment emitter, minor electronics and a very powerful power supply. This power supply is likely to be something used all over the Empire. Consider how effective they are at keeping a lightsaber running. (There's only one instance of a lightsaber dying on screen, and it's a millennia-old example found on an abandoned battlefield.) Surely these same power supplies are used to power everything smaller than a breadbox and certainly things like droids are festooned with them.

  • If the crystal and the power array were disabled or powered down, (reducing any particular signature) they could easily blend into the technical sophistication of an R2 Droid.

  • the number of electronic components, exotic power cells, and electromagnetic fields they would emit, a light-saber, particularly one that may have had its power crystal shut down until needed, would see little more than one more power supply housed within the body of the droid.

  • From the bounty hunter perspective it's nothing to worry about, especially if you were looking for more common weapons such as blasters, explosives or other more easily available weapons.

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  • Lightsabers have wires inside!!!
    – user931
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 10:11
  • I upvoted just for the schematics! :)
    – Jane S
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 21:43
  • I can see a small PCB with through-hole resistors, caps and even an LED just over the blade power adjust knob! That's why scanners cannot detect it: too old technology inside :-) Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 20:37
  • Also, keep in mind that R2-D2 is a mechanic. It's certainly plausible that he might have an extra "plasma cutter" in there somewhere. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 13:49
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In Standard R2 Units that spot that shot out the light saber is used for flares so they probably wouldn't check at all due to the real purpose of the slot.

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