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"I received a nice letter the other day from the Dalai Lama. He had read 'The Nine Billion Names of God'. It is about a computer at a Tibetan monastery."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Scarab Robot Flying Insect  
  A tiny flying robotic machine, used for surveillance.  

In this short story, a strange new fortress threatens; it is impossible for planes to approach. What sort of device could be used to penetrate its defenses?

The Scarab paused on its perch for a moment, as if to determine for itself whether it was perfectly fit for action. It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length... Its body had a metallic sheen, and its vitals were far more intricate than those of the finest watch...

The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together, as flies will do when at rest. Then, apparently satisfied that it was in condition, it unfolded the coleoptera-like plates over its wings. With a buzz that any uninformed person would have mistaken for that of a beetle, it started out on its journey.

...It landed close to the stone walls of the structure.

About it, as it scrambled forward, were weeds and bushes and grass, which, from its miniature point of view, constituted a thick and threatening jungle... a large, vicious-looking beetle barred the way, its chitinous mandibles opening and closing suggestively.

...the Scarab buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might, and sought the security of a shadowed corner. There it studied its surroundings, transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones and saw with its minute vision tubes.

From The Scarab, by Raymond Z. Gallun.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1936
Additional resources -

The amazing Scarab also has the ability to deliver, via a "sting," a minute quantity of a powerful soporific agent to put evildoers quickly to sleep.

With a whir, the Scarab shot from the concealing shadows of the corner where it had hidden itself. Its aim was true. Jt struck the back of Kolinís pink neck; and for a fraction of a second it clung there, its metal mandibles biting deep into flesh. A tiny part of a drop of liquid was injected into its victimís blood stream. That liquid was less subtle, though far more potent, than the renegade scientistís suggestion-receptivity drug.

The Scarab could fly thousands of feet high into the sky; it was powered by "wireless power plants".

Note that the Scarab is not an autonomous robot; it is remote-controlled at all times. This story demonstrates the good humor of Gallun; the user of the Scarab describes having fun picking fights with beetles and other small creatures.

IT WAS 8:43 p. m. in the topmost room of the N. J. House, more properly known as the National Justice Building.

The wizened little man leaned back wearily and triumphantly in his wheel chair. He drew his hands away from the complicated maze of levers and buttons before him. Those levers and buttons were the controls of the distant Scarab. By means of them, through a system of radio impulses, the intricate and tiny robot could be guided and directed. That radiovision screen there, still portraying a wild though satisfying view, pictured what the Scarabís eyes beheld. That speaker, supported in a mahogany box, reproduced the sounds heard by the Scarabís microphonic ears.

The only part about the Scarab that seems unattainable today is its power source; wireless, broadcast power, which was all the rage in the Twenties and Thirties.

Compare to the infiltrators from Vulcan's Hammer (1960) by Philip K. Dick, the commercial fly from The Simulacra (1964) by Philip K. Dick and the blurbflies from Nymphomation (2000) by Jeff Noon. Compare also to the housefly monitor from Lies, Inc. (1964) by Philip K. Dick - not a robot but a controllable organic insect with attached surveillance technology.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Scarab
  More Ideas and Technology by Raymond Z. Gallun
  Tech news articles related to The Scarab
  Tech news articles related to works by Raymond Z. Gallun

Scarab Robot Flying Insect-related news articles:
  - Insbot Robot Cockroaches Make Friends And Influence... Roaches
  - 'New' Israeli Bionic Hornet Concept Is 70 Years Old
  - Insect Lab Beetle Clockwork Sculpture
  - Jumping Microrobot 'Flea' Is Solar Powered
  - Bandai Hex Bug Toy Robot Infestation
  - Robotic Fly Micro Air Vehicle
  - Morphing Micro Air-Land Vehicle: It Flies, It Crawls
  - DelFly Micro Smallest Camera Plane
  - ExoFly Flapping Planetary Survey Aerobot
  - Katana Mono-Wing Rotorcraft Nano Air Vehicle
  - Stealthy, Persistent Perch and Stare UAVs
  - Robo-Bat Has Shape Memory Alloy Joints
  - Robobees To Swarm At Harvard
  - Bio-Mechanics And Micro-Robotic Flight
  - Perching Project Drones Wait For You
  - Insectothopter Robotic Dragonfly CIA Tech From 1970s
  - Microcamera Big As Grain Of Salt
  - Robobee Learns The Waggle Dance
  - BOLT Bipedal Ornithopter Robot
  - Israel's Robotic Butterfly Drone Flies Indoors
  - Can't Wait For My Robot Dragonfly!
  - Black Hornet Nano UAV Used By British Troops
  - RoboBee Swarm Replaces Pollinating Insects?
  - Drosophila Robotica, The Mechanical Fly
  - Tiniest Microphone Inspired By Fly
  - Fast Lightweight Autonomy Indoor Drones For DARPA
  - Picobug Robot Flies, Runs And Grabs
  - Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
  - Poli-X1 Prototype Bee Pollinator
  - RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
  - FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
  - Robot Hummingbird Hovers Biomimetically
  - 3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start

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