30

You would think they would only need to communicate silently through internal transmissions. Having them have to communicate verbally seems pointless. What is the IN-UNIVERSE reason for this?

  • 4
    They are shown to communicate with organic/non-droid beings, though. Even if they communicated with each other by silent transmissions, they still need to be able to communicate audibly. – phantom42 Apr 20 '15 at 12:28
  • 8
    It wouldn't be much fun for us to watch two battle droids just stare at each other... – Daft Apr 20 '15 at 12:43
  • 3
    @Daft I completely agree. Or, I should say, "Roger-roger." – KSmarts Apr 20 '15 at 15:31
  • 2
    @Daft With radio communication, we wouldn't even get the pleasure of watching them stare. – David Richerby Apr 20 '15 at 21:07
  • 4
    Maybe you do not want your soldier robots to communicate in way you do not understand… – Holger Apr 21 '15 at 10:20
11

Basic is (probably) a fall-back level of communication used when coordination of more sophisticated means isn't practical. In the case of battle droids, it may easily be sufficient, so more sophisticated methods simply aren't used t all.

We know that other methods are used with other droids, but that translation between them can be something of a problem. The primary function of C3PO (and presumably, other similar) droids is to act as a translator between communication protocols used by various other droids (and people). When Luke's uncle buys C3PO, his primary intent is to have him communicate with other droids (vaporators?)

At the level of individual soldiers, communication in battle is often fairly minimal (e.g., in our real life, much is often handled via simple hand signals). As such, it's probably more important to have some minimal level of communication assured, than to have a more efficient method that may not work at all at times (C3PO not necessarily being at its best under battle conditions).

  • 3
    I agree with all but the last point. Battle droids completely shut down when they disconnect from the spaceship. It's apparent they already have a form of wireless communication, and the protocol is (normally) reliable enough to base an entire army around its constant use. In any case, how is wireless communication less reliable than audio/visual signals transmitted in a noisy battlefield where line of sight is not guaranteed? – 16807 Apr 20 '15 at 22:12
  • 1
    Wireless technology can be jammed by electronic countermeasures. Infrared or ultraviolet communications can be jammed by smoke or chaff. Radio communications can be limited to line of sight. Communications can also require ID protocols. With quadrillions of drones, such information transfer and connection could become quite a problem requiring sophisticated computers to coordinate. With having each droid understand and use BASIC, under most battlefield conditions they would simply WORK, no limitations beyond range and distance, which could be enhanced by specialized, secured communications. – Thaddeus Howze Apr 20 '15 at 23:42
  • 2
    @16807 Only early models of Battle Droids required the master control signal. That was fixed after the Battle of Naboo. From then on, in all movies/shows, Battle Droids work just fine independently. – phantom42 Apr 21 '15 at 1:39
  • Some things that bother me: 1. Natural Language processing is very complicated for computers. 2. Sentient languages are full of idioms and are very imprecise. Just think about all the misunderstandings you might have with people on a day to day basis. Now imagine them on a battle field. 3. Communicating in a plain sentient language lets enemies understand easily: it's not encrypted. – Kimberly W Aug 14 '16 at 15:27
24

In-universe, the most likely reason for programming the battle droids to speak in Basic is communication with non-droid personnel.

In several scenes, we see battle droids interacting with non-droids - usually their Nemoidian masters & operators. Here's an example from Episode I, but there are plenty throughout the prequel trilogy movies:

The droid invasion force moves out of the swamp and onto a grassy plain. OOM-9, in his tank, looks out over the vast ARMY marching across the rolling hills. A small hologram of RUNE and NUTE stands on the tank.

OOM-9: Yes, Viceroy?

RUNE: Captain, we've searched the ship and there is no trace of the Jedi. They may have got on onto one of your landing craft.

OOM-9: If they are down here, sir, we'll find them.

NUTE: Use caution. These Jedi are not to be underestimated.

While it would seem to make sense for droids to communicate with each other via some sort of binary language or wireless communication, it's possible that the Trade Federation simply cut costs by giving them a single, verbal communication method. Since they needed to communicate in Basic anyway, perhaps that was deemed enough and warranted no further research/spending.

  • 6
    Speech, compared to Star Wars level wifi, must be an infinitely slower way to communicate with one another. It just seems like such a ridiculous way for droids to communicate at all. Even some static buzzing noise with subtitles would have been better, – Daft Apr 20 '15 at 13:43
  • 4
    Maybe not allowing them to communicate non-verbally was a precaution to prevent them from organizing a revolt without the owners realizing it. – Philipp Apr 20 '15 at 17:19
  • 2
    As if creating a text-to-speech engine is more cost effective than adopting an existing text protocol. – 16807 Apr 20 '15 at 22:03
  • 2
    @16807 In the Star Wars universe where machine speech is a solved problem, it may well be. Communication with humans is vital to the function of many droids, so it's likely that there are plenty of existing solutions for it. Developing a custom binary or even text based communication system could well be more expensive; there probably aren't many (or even any) existing standards for combat droids to communicate with each other. – jpmc26 Apr 21 '15 at 1:56
  • 1
    @jpmc26 That's a good point. If battle droids existed on earth, there would be 11 different communication standards and only thing that worked reliably across brands and ages would be human speech :) – jpa Apr 21 '15 at 13:25
6

1) They issued instructions to their enemies (I think it was 'drop your weapons' but could easily be wrong there).

2) The main thing they say is "roger roger", which seems sensible. In sci-fi or not, people assume that technology isn't working, unless it gives an acknowledgement. Particularly important if you are unsure if your damaged droids 'hearing' has been damaged. Go to UX.StackExchange and ask "I'm designing killer robots, how should they acknowledge orders by humans", they will say you should go with "roger roger".

  • 4
    This answer raises a good point - perhaps they are communicating wirelessly, but they also have vocal conversations so that their organic counterparts can see that they're working. If you powered up a squad of battle droids, you'd want to see some sign that they're operating, and your puny organic mind can't pick up the massive tactical reports they're sending each other, so for your benefit they speak and call "over there!", "roger roger" etc. so that you know something is happening. Kinda like the blinking light that tells me my router is doing stuff on the WiFi. – anaximander Apr 21 '15 at 14:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.