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"I can remember when the first pulsars were discovered. I was able to go and sit down and listen to graduate students talking about what their theories, to explain what pulsars really were."
- Vernor Vinge

Robot Gun  
  An automated gun; typically used for sentry duty.  

The gun is enhanced with artificial intelligence and target recognition to act as a decision maker in firing.

Hudson grunted as he set the second heavy sentry gun onto its recoil-absorbing tripod. The weapon was squat, ugly, unencumbered by sights or triggers. Vasquez locked the weapon in place, then snapped on the connectors that led from the firing mechanism to the attached motion sensor. When she was certain the comtech was out of the way, she nudged a single switch marked ACTIVATE. A small green light came to life atop the gun. On the small diagnotic readout set flush in the side, READY flashed yellow, then red. Both troopers stepped clear. Vasquez picked up a battered wastebasket that had rolled into the corridor and shouted towards the weapon's aural pickup: "Testing!" Then she threw the empty metal container out into the middle of the corridor. Both guns swiveled and let loose before the basket hit the floor, reducing the container to dime-sized shrapnel. Hudson whooped with delight. In the service tunnel that connected the buildings of the colony to the processing station and each other, a pair of robot guns sat silently, their motion scanners alert and humming. C gun surveyed the empty corridor, its ARMED light flashing green. Through a hole in the ceiling at the far end of the passageway, fog swirled in. Water condensed on bare metal walls and dripped to the floor. The gun did not fire on the falling drops. It was smarter, more selective than that, able to distinguish between harmless natural phenomena and inimical movement. The water made no attempt to advance, and so the weapon held its fire, waiting patiently for something to kill
From Aliens, by Alan Dean Foster.
Published by Futura Publications in 1986
Additional resources -

Compare to the automatic gun from The Andromeda Strain (1969), by Michael Crichton; that article contains additional historical information.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Aliens
  More Ideas and Technology by Alan Dean Foster
  Tech news articles related to Aliens
  Tech news articles related to works by Alan Dean Foster

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