Star Wars: R2-D2 to appear in next movie outing
R2-D2 is to make an appearance in the next outing of Star Wars, makers LucasFilm have confirmed.
The squat, squeaking android is being created at Pinewood Studios by two British men who are members of a Star Wars robot-building group.
Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples say they feel "very privileged" to be working on the film.
Star Wars: Episode VII is currently in pre-production and filming is due to begin in the spring.
The new outing is being directed by JJ Abrams and is set for release in December 2015.
The two robot builders have previously employed their skills on Star Wars-themed commercials, but it was a visit of LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy to a convention in Germany that got their work noticed - and landed them jobs on the new film.
"I mentioned that the R2-D2 Builders in the UK were available if required, as a semi-joke. When I was contacted to work on the film by executive producer Jason McGatlin, it was on her recommendation," said Mr Steeples.
"It's a dream come true," he added. "I hope I can live up to the expectations of the thousands of R2-D2 builders around the world, let alone the millions of Star Wars fans."
The pair, who have been constructing R2-D2 units for some years, will be responsible for maintaining the robots during the making of the film, and will try to improve on its design.
The robot is a mesh of gears, lights and electronics which need to be kept in excellent condition throughout the production of the movie.
British actor Kenny Baker was inside the machine for the first six Star Wars films. It has not been revealed whether he will rejoin the series for Episode VII.
R2-D2, an astromech android, is best known as a companion to the human heroes of the Star Wars franchise, including Luke and Anakin Skywalker, using its resources to rescue them from perilous situations.
He built up an endearing partnership with his fussy fellow android C-3PO, who is able to understand R2-D2's language and interprets it for humans.
The droid's name is an abbreviation of "reel 2, dialogue 2" - which Star Wars creator George Lucas overheard in the editing suite for his second film, American Graffiti.