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"The way you write science fiction is: you sit down at your writing machine and you open your mind to the first thought that comes through."
- Frederik Pohl

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.
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

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