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"I don't know why I write science fiction. The voices in my head told me to!"
- Charles Stross

R2-D2 (Artoo-Detoo)  
  Now the generic term for a small, maneuverable robot.  

Just a bit less than one meter tall, Artoo-Detoo is an astromech droid - or robot - with a wide assortment of tools and appendages to solve problems. R2 is a very talkative robotic Leatherman.

Artoo did not comment immediately. The barrel torso tilted backward, powerful legs gripping the deck, the meter high robot was engrossed in studying the roof overhead. Though he did not have head to cock in a listening posture like his friend, Artoo somehow managed to convey that impression. A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker. To even the sensitive human ear they would have been just so much static, but to Threepio they formed words as clear and pure as direct current.
Technovelgy from Star Wars, by George Lucas.
Published by Del Rey in 1976
Additional resources -

R2 does not speak English, or other human languages - too inefficient, perhaps. He communicates with a wide range of whistles and beeps, all translated (however reluctantly) by his counterpart C3PO.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Star Wars
  More Ideas and Technology by George Lucas
  Tech news articles related to Star Wars
  Tech news articles related to works by George Lucas

R2-D2 (Artoo-Detoo)-related news articles:
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  - White Box Robotics 'Apache' - More Punch Than R2D2
  - Universal Whistling Machine - The Future Of Non-Verbal Communications
  - Nissan Pivo 2 Concept Car With R2D2 Companion Robot
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  - Table Robot Balances On Two Wheels
  - BaR2D2 Mobile Bar
  - ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
  - AIDA Affective Intelligent Driving Agent
  - PaPeRo Robot Cashier's Helper
  - BYD Qin Car Has Dashboard 'i' Robot
  - Robot Kirobo Talks With Astronauts Aboard ISS
  - Kirobo Mini - Your Dashboard Droid
  - R2D2's Friend TUG: Hospital Robot By Aethon
  - Would You Converse With Your Autonomous Car?
  - Auto-Targeting Fire Sprinkler Systems Now Reality

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No Tips! Robotic Food Delivery In Phoenix
Micro-Robots Are Smallest, Fully Functional
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Robot Snakes No Longer Stopped By Stairs

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