"The way you write science fiction is: you sit down at your writing machine and you open your mind to the first thought that comes through."
In the story, the tracer-birds are used to spy upon the novel's main character. It is noteworthy that Zelazny hit upon a useable way for UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles) to do solar charging automatically.
The earliest reference that I know of for a robot that can charge itself is from the 1960 short story Callahan and the Wheelies by Stephen Barr. See the article for the self-charging robot.
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Eviation Alice Electric Plane First Flight
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'
Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup
'Chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'
Changesite Mineral To Be Mined On Moon By China
'But then... not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon.'
Tongue-Controlled Tong Wearable Mouth Computer
'Griff found the white and pink map distracting and switched it off using his tongue mouse.'
Is It Better To Be Short?
'He was one of the smaller, energy-saving new breed...'
Taikonaut Tai Chi Foot Loops
'Jimmy Cardigan and Harlowe, staring through the darkside port, had their feet in the foot-loops...'
Space Billboards Would Ruin Our View Of The Cosmos
'But the rising sign, as it had been designed to do, held his eyes. A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'
Orion's 'Skip-to-M'Lou' Entry
'A lightning pilot possibly could land that tin toy without power and still walk away from it provided he had the skill to play Skip-to-MíLou in and out of the atmosphere...'
MarsCat and MetaCat, Your Robot Cat Companions
'It was you who betrayed me ó you and your robot cat.'
Mars Mission Using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion
'with its atomic engine as noiseless as a dancing sunbeam...'
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