STAPs are lightweight reconnaissance and patrol vehicles used by the battle droids of the Trade Federation army. Incorporating repulsorlift technology, the STAP (single trooper aerial platform) is a slim, agile craft sporting a pair of blaster cannons. STAPs are often deployed as support vehicles in conjunction with larger craft.
The design of the STAP draws inspiration from similar civilian vehicles called airhooks. Trade Federation engineers refitted the design with greater performance and reliability. High-voltage energy cells fuel the tiny craft's drive turbines, which afford the STAP impressive maneuverability.
The STAP's greatest weakness is its fragility -- its pilot rides exposed to enemy fire. Though the craft is very agile, a lucky shot can quickly destroy a STAP or its pilot. As such, the STAP is strictly relegated to patrol and "mopping up" missions, while the brunt of combat is borne by heavier vehicles.
An early form of the STAP dates back to the very first story treatment written by George Lucas in May of 1973. In it, the heroes travel through a dense jungle planet on "jet-sticks." This idea would go unexplored for over two decades before resurfacing in the revised rough draft of Episode I. In this version, the battle droids are said to ride STAPS, or Single Troop Armed Pogo Sticks.
In developing the look of the STAP, Design Director Doug Chiang experimented with heavier versions of the vehicle, which appeared more like the speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi. Ultimately, he borrowed the lightweight design of a hummingbird to establish the STAP's final look.