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"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Autonomously Recharging UAV  
  Unmanned aerial vehicles that recharge themselves automatically.  

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 dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread. Had there been an eye to observe them, it might not even have noted their minute, tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries for the night's flight.
From Changeling, by Roger Zelazny.
Published by Ace in 1980
Additional resources -

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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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Changeling
  More Ideas and Technology by Roger Zelazny
  Tech news articles related to Changeling
  Tech news articles related to works by Roger Zelazny

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