Eleven years before the Battle of Yavin, Arakyd Industries – already the holder of many of the Empire’s lucrative military droid contracts – attempted to create a military-grade astromech droid to rival Industrial Automaton’s various widely popular R series astromechs. The result was the VR42 series.
The VR42 series was designed to appeal to the same sensibilities that made Arakyd’s Probot series so successful with the Empire, while maintaining the versatility and functionality of IA’s successful astromech lines. The VR42 featured two heavy-duty extendable gripping claws on the sides, two extendable manipulator claws on front, a multi-function display panel in the “chest,” standard scomp link interface plug, various tools (customizable as necessary) and storage compartments. The “head” could retract into the body for a smaller profile and added protection if required. Mounted on the front were two blasters. While the VR42 moved by means of a repulsorlift unit similar to that used in Arakyd’s Probot series, it also featured two retractable “legs” that served multiple purposes: they housed an advanced sensor and communications package that operated at peak efficiency when extended from the body, allowed the droid to magnetically adhere to metallic surfaces (to better facilitate extra-vehicular repairs in space), and could also fit into a custom-made interface module to allow for a stronger interface between the droid and a ship’s systems. The VR42 also boasted one great advantage over IA’s astromechs – a standard vocabulator to better facilitate communication between the droid and the humans it served.
On paper and in practice, the VR42 was a well-designed and built droid, more than capable of performing its designed function. Unfortunately for Arakyd, Industrial Automaton had several decades in which to establish a firm grasp on the astromech market. That simple fact, combined with the higher price tag of the unit and the added expense of the “optional” proprietary interface system made the Empire leary of investing heavily in the VR42. An initial order was placed that was relatively conservative. While the VR42 proved successful in use, the Empire simply found it more cost-effective to continue using the more familiar – and less expensive – R-series astromechs, and after a brief trial period of utilizing its VR42’s, decomissioned them.
Arakyd, having counted on heavy orders from the Empire based on past dealings, had a great many VR42’s already constructed and was in the process of designing the upgraded VR43 series. When the Empire chose not to pick up the VR42 contract, Arakyd dismantled the blaster units, removed the other military-grade hardware and placed the VR42 on the open market. There, too, the higher cost led to few sales. Arakyd ultimately ended up scrapping its large stock of VR42’s, although there are still a fair number to be found in use in the galaxy.