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If a Tau commander and 2 shield drones come under fire, and the commander is killed but the shield drones survive, what happens to the shield drones? Can they join another unit?
Nope. As the unit with the Drone Controller dies, so do the drones.
Page 31 in Codex:Tau Empire
Last sentence before drone stat boxes.
"If the character with the drone controller is killed then all his drones are removed at the end of the Shooting or Assault phase in which he died."
Also.. As they're not independent characters themselves even if they hadn't been removed they would have been unable to join units.