It was said that the possible concept for the Shadow Droids came from Palpatine's interest in life-enslaving technology of the Ssi-ruuk. The chief engineer Umak Leth could not duplicate the reptilian aliens' complicated "entechment" process and instead he fell back on the proven success of a direct circuit-to-cerebrum neural link. To be able to do this Leth had to remove the still-living gray matter from scores of grievously wounded or incapacitated TIE pilot aces. The brains were sustained in a protected cocoon awash with nutrient fluids, and the brains were hardwired to external sensors, flight-control and weapons-control systems, and sophisticated tactical computers.
When the brains became cybernetic hardware, they stripped the pilots of every remaining shred of Humanity, but augmented their reflexes and abilities far beyond anything they would have otherwise known. Emperor Palpatine had also given to his creations one final gift: the ability to touch the dark side, which made them essentially remote extensions of his own will.
The Shadow Droid was a streamlined starfighter that was capable of keeping pace with the New Republic's X-wing in space, and in the atmosphere they utilized a maneuverable repulsorlift system, but they could easily reach supersonic speeds with a short blast from their ion engines. These droids were also covered with a very glossy black alloy that made them difficult to pinpoint on sensor scans. The droids' twin wings that were extended from the side of the control pad supported repeating blasters, ion cannons, and electromagnetic pulse guns. The droids had two additional pylons to serve as racks and launchers for proton torpedoes and concussion missiles. The droids' two smaller dorsal lasers covered the rear field of fire, and a long-range antenna allowed the fighters to transmit their dense binary code stream between each other and their command ship.