The British inventor who built the original R2-D2 droid in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 68.

Professor Tony Dyson was found by police at his home on the Maltese island of Gozo and is believed to have died of natural causes.

A post-mortem is being carried out to determine the cause of his death.

Dyson constructed the iconic film robot R2-D2 from designs by Ralph McQuarrie and built several control units, including two for actor Kenny Baker to sit inside during filming.

Tony Dyson built R2-D2 for the sci-fi film series, which began in 1977 with the release of Star Wars, later subtitled A New Hope. Credit: Twentieth Century Fox/PA Wire

He also worked on Superman II, the Bond film Moonraker and Dragonslayer during his career in the movies and earned an Emmy nomination for his film special effects supervision.

Malta police confirmed the death at Dyson's home on Thursday morning.

A neighbour realised the front door was open and became concerned and called the police. Officers entered the apartment and he was found dead.

Malta police spokesman Kurt Bugeja Coster