Limpet Controllers are a series of ship modules used to program and control simple limpet drones. The drones can be launched from the ship to perform various tasks depending on the type of Limpet Controller. Each Limpet Controller module is specialised and only capable of managing one type of task, and if a pilot wishes to use multiple functions, they must either install multiple Limpet Controller modules with the appropriate functions or a Multi-Limpet Controller.
The limpets managed by Limpet Controllers are cheap, disposable munitions stored in a ship's Cargo Racks. They can be replenished at ports or via Synthesis. Limpets remain blank templates until they are deployed, at which time they are programmed by whichever Limpet Controller is activated by the pilot before being launched from the ship to carry out their assigned task.
- Main article: Collector
Collection drones have two modes. The primary mode scoops the object or canister you're currently targeting. The secondary mode has an area effect, scooping everything it can before it expires. In the latter mode, Collector drones move more slowly, but can gather multiple items before expiring; otherwise, they self-destruct when the designated item has been retrieved.
- Main article: Decontamination
Decontamination limpets attach to a target ship's hull and remove any caustic residue left by Thargoid Interceptor missiles. At the same time, the drones also repair a portion of the target ship's hull, but are less effective at repair work than Repair drones.
- Main article: Fuel Transferer
Fuel Transfer limpets let a player send one ton of fuel to another ship, while in flight. Ships can carry additional fuel for their escort fighters and extend the effective range of their Wings.
- Main article: Hatch Breaker
Hatch Breaker limpets can be fired upon the targeted ship and upon contact break its Cargo hatch, thereby ejecting the target's cargo over time. It can be countered with Point Defence Turrets.
- Main article: Prospector
Prospector limpets scan asteroids, scouting for mineable materials they contain. They are very useful when seeking rare ores.
- Main article: Recon
- Main article: Repair
Repair limpets repair the targeted ship's hull. If launched without an assigned target, they will repair the hull of their parent ship instead. Depending on what type of Repair Limpet Controller is installed, multiple limpets can be active on a ship at a time; exceeding the module's limit of active limpets will cause the oldest active limpet on the target to self-destruct.
- Main article: Research
Research drones attach to targeted Thargoid Interceptors, Thargoid Scouts, or alien organic lifeforms found at Notable Stellar Phenomena, and retrieve a research sample, such as a Thargoid Cyclops Tissue Sample, which is then stored aboard the ship as a Commodity.
- The first four Limpet Controllers (Collector, Hatch Breaker, Fuel Transferer, and Prospector) were added to Elite Dangerous in the 1.3 Powerplay update released on June 5, 2015.
- Limpets are stored in the ship's cargo hold, unlike most other consumables. Each Limpet takes one "ton" of storage space.
- Limpets are consumed when first activated, and cannot be recovered even once their task(s) are completed. The following conditions will result in Limpet (self-)destruction;
- Task Completion. Limpets will self-destruct when their task has been successfully carried out.
- Life-time Expiration. Limpets will eventually self-destruct when the control timer (as listed in the Controller's specifications) reaches zero.
- Control Range. If the Mothership flies too far away from its Limpets, they will automatically self-destruct.
- Enemy Fire. Point Defence Turrets may fire upon Limpets, especially Hatch Breakers, and subsequently destroy them.
- Electronic Countermeasure. Firing an ECM will destroy all friendly and hostile Limpets in range.
- Collision. Limpets sometimes do not attempt to maneuver around objects such asteroids, wrecks, or other ships; they can easily slam into something and will be destroyed as a result.
- Between December 16, 2018 and December 16, 2019, over 200 million Limpets had been used and abandoned in space.