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Updated for version 4.20

Drones are autonomous vehicles based on stations or (some) M, L and XL ships. These drones perform specific functions for their commanders.

Buying and Building Drones

Drones are constructed from Drone components and from Smart chips using Energy Cells. When you dock a ship that can stock drones at a wharf or shipyard, you can order drones and the wharf or shipyard will instantly produce and then deliver them to your ship. These drones can then be used on the ship or transferred to player-owned stations. However, to supply player-owned stations, it is much more convenient to let the station manufacture its own drones. Right-click your station and select "Logical overview". There, you can set how many Cargo drones, Defence drones and Repair drones the station should keep in stock. The station will then order Drone components,Smart chips and Energy Cells and once the station is supplied with these wares, it will produce drones on its own and maintain their number in the case of losses. However, experience shows that it may take a very long time for stations to get supplied with these wares by NPCs, so send one of your own freighters if you want this to happen more quickly.

Drone Types

There are a number of drone types in X4 Foundations, and we will discuss them in turn:

Cargo Drones

Cargo drones are used by stations with piers and by L and XL ships to transfer wares. If an L or XL ship is docked to a station's pier, for example, you can watch the Cargo drones fly back and forth between the drone bay at the front of the ship and the pier. The time needed to transfer the wares is governed by the amount of drones the station and the ship own between them, and the drones will return to their original owners after all wares have been transferred.

Consequently, your L mining ships shouldn't be equipped solely with Gas collectors or Ore collectors - include at least one Cargo drone to be certain you're able to exchange resources with any station you encounter.

Construction drones

Building drones are used by XL Builder-type ships to construct stations. Construction speed of stations depends on the number of Construction drones the Builder ship has, so choose NPC builder ships carefully with this in mind, and pick one carrying the maximum number of Construction drones usable at the same time when building a station module (30).

Defense drones

Defense drones are auto-launched by stations and ships which come under attack (or launch an attack themselves) and can be set to attack or defend their bases. They are essentially small ships with a laser attached which they use to fight. After release it usually takes some time for them to return to docking storage on recall, therefore it can be prudent to disable their launch in the ship settings or via a configurable hotkey until you really need them in ships manned by yourself.

Gas collectors

Gas collectors are used on L gas mining ships to collect gases (HeliumHydrogen and Methane).

Ore collectors

Ore collectors are used on L mineral mining ships to collect minerals (IceOreSilicon and Nividium).

Repair drones

Repair drones are auto-launched by stations and ships which suffer damage. They fly to the damaged part of the ship and initiate repairs. They are essentially small ships with a repair laser attached, which they use to repair affected hull areas and surface fixtures such as drives, turrets, etc.

Terraforming Drones

(see also Terraforming)

Terraforming drones are special because unlike regular drones they are built with a S/M Fabrication module. Additionally and most critically, they do not require any resources to be built and will be created out of nothing when terraforming resources are provided. In addition, terraforming drones come in two varieties medium and small drop drones respectively, this also makes the medium drop drone the only medium sized drone.


  1. Anonymous

    How do you deploy the drones, specifically mining drones?

  2. Anonymous

    Description on how to purchase drones would be helpful.


  3. Anonymous

    One does not deploy drones. it would be nice if we had control over this, IMO, but we do not.

    some random notes about drones.



    Defense drones deploy automatically depending on apparently several factors (is parent ship attacking? Are nearby friendlies being attacked? these are just guesses based on observation).
    Mining / Gas drones deploy when there are materials near the parent ship that are gather-able (this means the parent ship must break large asteroids first, for the loot able drops). 

    Cargo drones are used mostly by stations. If two stations are near enough for mass traffic to be established, the drones will automatically transfer wares from producing stations to consuming stations. (This is hearsay, i have not witnessed it.)

    They are used by L and XL ships to transfer wares to and from stations, however, so it is wise to keep them around.

    It is a viable strategy to have no cargo drones on your ships if you intend to only use them at your own stations, and keep a number of them on the stations they will interact with. 

    Finally, repair drones are utilized by the crew to expedite repairs (at all times, not just out of combat.) 

    It appears that a crewman must man each repair drone, but it appears they are remote controlled as no crew is lost when drones are destroyed.

    Repair drones never seem to launch from M class ships. they may, or may not, actually improve the rate of repair for them. 

    Repair Drones do not interact with ships other than the parent/  they will not help other ships repair.


    You can buy drones for your M/L/XL ships in the ship repair/rearm menu. This is the same section that includes missiles.

    For stations: drones are acquired by going into the logical station overview, scrolling to the bottom, and defining how many drones you want on the station with the drop-down menu. The station will construct drones from delivered wares ((Ecells?) smart chips and drone components) automatically.

    for ships, drone capacity is also referred to as unit capacity in the repair/rearm interface. They are available for M class ships and above.

    Not all ship types utilize all the different drone types. IE, the Cerberus Sentinel i fly frequently never launches the one repair done i keep in it. Also, it never has a reason to use cargo drones. That's not to say it cannot. It is a rare occasion to have a ware transfer between two ships that cannot dock in some way, even with a nearby station, which is a much faster method. 

    For stations, drone capacity is defined by the modules the station is built from. If you go into the build screen, you can view the provided storage space for each module. <table here>

    A good thing to know would be how much a drone costs to build in each ware type<table here>


  4. Anonymous

    Could somebody with official knowledge please add in the article some defails about repair drone usage in M ships?

  5. Anonymous

    Seriously deficient. How many X games have there been? The developer can't be bothered to explain how this feature works? It's good people try and help here, but it looks like guess work.

  6. Anonymous

    A developer response regarding repair ships in M class would be great, they dont launch but do they speed up the repair?

  7. Anonymous

    Says you will discuss ALL drones, I dont see Building drones?  As in the Player Stations once you build a repair bay or ship manufacturer you have to build Building Drones to construct ships.  Does having more of these increase ship build speed the same as construction drones for building stations?

  8. Anonymous

    I've seen a drone stream between 2 close by NPC stations, but have never been able to re create this in my own stations.  Is this something that can occur?  How close do I need to have 2 stations for this to happen?

  9. Anonymous

    I'd like Egosoft to discipline themselves to spending a little time each day updating the wiki.

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