Drones are autonomous vehicles based on stations or (some) M, L and XL ships. These drones perform specific functions for their bases.
Buying and building drones
Drones are constructed from Drone components and from Smart chips. 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 "Logistic 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 and Smart chips and once the station is supplied with these wares, it will produce drones on its own (and presumably 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.
There are a number of drone types in X4 Foundations, and we will discuss them in turn:
- Cargo drones
- Construction drones
- Defense drones
- Gas collectors
- Ore collectors
- Repair drones
1. Cargo drones
Cargo drones are used by stations with piers and by L and XL ships to transfer wares between stations and these large ships. Note that you seem to need at least one cargo drone on an L or XL ship to be able to transfer any wares to or from a station and that you may also need cargo drones on the station (needs verification). For example, if you use L mining ships to supply your stations, do not make the mistake of equipping them solely with Gas collectors or Ore collectors - include at least one Cargo drone.
2. 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 maximize the number of Construction drones in your own Builder ships to maximize station construction speed.
3. 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.
4. Gas collectors
Gas collectors are used on L gas mining ships to collect gases (Helium, Hydrogen, Methane).
5. Ore collectors
Ore collectors are used on L mineral mining ships to collect minerals (Ice, Ore, Silicon).
6. 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.