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"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
- Larry Niven

Metal BIrds  
  Surveillance robots that carried weapons, in addition to using their metal bodies.  

These are the heavily weaponized version of the robot tracking devices from the same novel.


(...cubes of glittering steel)

On the platform the metal projectile had been joined by another; now a third landed, coming to rest beside the other two. Three cubes of glittering steel, holding tightly to the marble with clawlike grippers.

"Attention!" the voice repeated. It came from the first projectile, an artificial voice - the sound of steel and wiring and plastic parts.

These were instruments of death. And now they were out in the open.

A fourth landed with the others. Metal squares, sitting together in a row like vicious mechanical crows. Murderous birds - hammer-headed destroyers... The four projectiles peered around the room, looking and listening intently.

Technovelgy from Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Ace Books in 1960
Additional resources -

The flying hammer-headed robots could attack in groups:

...he watched a mob of Healers struggling with a flock of hammers. Again and again the hammers dipped, striking and retreating...

"I can't understand how Vulcan 3 came to have such things," Daily said...

"It made them," Barris said. "They're adaptations of mobile repair instruments... It must have perceived the possibilities in the situation a long time ago, and started turning them out..."

A hammer dived for the window... "These are no random attacks; those damn metal birds are co-ordinated...

It's mechanical flying objects controlled by a machine buried deep beneath the earth.

These devices were also equipped with pencil lasers.

Compare to the tracer birds from Changeling (1980), by Roger Zelazny and to the robot bird from Invader on My Back, by Philip E. High, published by Ace Books in 1968.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Vulcan's Hammer
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Vulcan's Hammer
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

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