Droid vs. Android vs. Robot – What’s the Difference?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

We live in a time where technology is constantly advancing, almost faster than we can create it now that we have AI. So, you’re going to see terms like droid, android, and robot get thrown around a lot more.

But what do these words actually mean? Can you use them interchangeably? Do they mean the same thing? Don’t worry, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the difference between robots, droids, and androids.

Difference Between Android vs. Robot vs. Droid

Droid vs. Android vs. Robot Whats the Difference

To know the differences, let’s look at the definition of robot, droid, and android. 

  • Android: This is a humanoid robot or intelligent machine designed to resemble a human. Or, at least, human-like in both appearance and behavior. They can have facial expressions and human movements, and look like a real person with a human body. Think of the character Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or any of the robots from the uber-realistic movie “Ex Machina.”
  • Robot: This is more of a machine designed to carry out complex actions, either autonomously or under remote control operated by humans. Autonomous robots can include everything from factory robots to automatic teller machines at the bank, right down to the Roomba in your house. To put it simply, it’s a machine that operates and usually moves around but doesn’t have human-like features.
  • Droid: Droids are like androids’ robotic counterparts and are designed to perform a specific task, often in a science-fiction context. They don’t usually have facial features like us and are more like a personal assistant. Think R2-D2 from the ever-popular Star Wars, or, if you’re a gamer, the mix of droids from the “Mass Effect” video game.

When you look at it this way, you could assume that droids and androids are essentially modern robots, but not so much vice versa.

Droid vs. Android: Are They the Same?

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what each term essentially means, let’s narrow in and take a look at the difference between droid vs. android.

Sure, you could easily use both terms interchangeably (and are both commonly associated with science-fiction). But as a Sci-Fi fan, there’s a slight distinction between the two I’d like to point out.

So, an android is a robot designed to resemble a human (sort of). But a droid is a robot, whether simple or complex, that’s made to carry out a certain task. Think of Tony Stark’s Jarvis; that’s more or less a droid because it can interact with a human but doesn’t resemble one, and its main objective is to perform whatever tasks or jobs Tony gives it.

While C3PO from Star Wars (the golden robot) is what I would consider an android because it talks and thinks like us and has four limbs and a head.

What Are the Origins of Androids, Droids, and Robots?

The word “robot” was first coined by Czech writer Karel Čapek in his 1923 play “R.U.R.” (Rossum’s Universal Robots). The word comes from a Czech word “robota,” which basically means “forced labor.”

As for androids and droids, both terms have their roots in science fiction. A lot of people think that droid is just a short way of saying android, but if you refer back to my breakdown above, you’ll see there’s actually a difference between them.

The word “android” was first used in 1837 in reference to automated chess players. And, as for droid, I know what you’re thinking; George Lucas coined the term. But he didn’t; he just made it super popular with Star Wars when he trademarked it. The word “droid” actually came from author Mari Wolf when she wrote “Robots of the World! Arise!” in 1952.

Sentence Examples Using Robot

Droid vs. Android vs. Robot Whats the Difference 1
  • The factory my dad works uses a variety of robots to assemble cars on the assembly line.
  • Believe it or not, I programmed my Roomba robot to clean the house while I’m at work.
  • I think it’s amazing that some scientists are developing different types of robots to assist with surgical procedures.

Sentence Examples Using Android

  • The android they used in “Ex Machina” was so darn realistic with its human appearance; it was hard to tell she wasn’t human. It totally freaked me out.
  • I know some people who believe humans will be able to download their consciousness into android bodies in the near future. Would you do it?
  • The androids in one of my favorite movies, “Blade Runner,” were designed to help humans with dangerous jobs.

Sentence Examples Using Droid

  • The programmable robot R2-D2 has got to be one of the most beloved droids in the Star Wars franchise.
  • My son thinks he’s going to build his own battle droid to perform dangerous tasks like protecting him from bullies. 
  • I just started playing “Mass Effect,” and players can choose to bring different droids on their missions!
  • Some NASA scientists are exploring the use of various types of droids to explore hostile or hazardous environments on other planets. How cool is that?

These Are Not the Droids You’re Looking For

There you go! Robots, droids, and androids aren’t just terms thrown around to describe any robotic machine. They have deep roots in Sci-Fi, and each one has a certain context it should be used for. If you look at them on a scale of advancement, robots would be at the bottom and androids would be at the top. I hope that helps!