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"Science fiction is what scientists would do if they could - if they had enough grant money, enough time, and enough brains to do the wonderful things they would like to do."
- Greg Bear

Metal Insects  
  Small autonomous flying winged robots.  

Rohan had brought back a handful of the "metal insects" in his pocket. Nearly twenty-four hours had been spent examining the little "flies."

...The strictly symmetrical tripartite structures resembled the letter "Y." Three wings were anchored in a central thickening, each wing tapering to a point in its extremity. They looked coal black under direct illumination; but reflected light made them glisten bluish and olive green, not unlike the abdomens of certain terrestrial which are composed of tiny surfaces like the multifaceted rose cut of a diamond... These miniscule elements, one one-hundredth the size of a small grain of sand, formed an autonomous nervous system with a number of independent fibers.

From The Invincible, by Stanislaw Lem.
Published by Poland in 1954
Additional resources -

If you like these litle guys, check out the scarab mechanical insect from a 1936 story by Raymond Z. Gallun.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Invincible
  More Ideas and Technology by Stanislaw Lem
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