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"I kind of take it for granted that our great-grandchildren will regard us as a sort of precursor species. That they won't think of us as human and if we could see them, we probably wouldn't think of them as human either."
- William Gibson

Flying Robot Drone Probe  
  A remote-controlled flying drone used for remote investigation and surveillance.  

Rawlins said, “This is going to sound naive, I know, Charles. But why don’t we just come down from here and land the scout-plane in the middle of that central plaza?”

“Let me show you,” said Boardman.

He spoke a command. A robot drone probe detached itself from the belly of the plane and streaked toward the city. Board-man and Rawlins followed the flight of the blunt gray metal projectile until it was only a few score meters above the tops of the buildings. Through its faceted eye they had a sharp view of the city, revealing the intricate texture of much of the stonework. Suddenly the drone probe vanished. There was a burst of incandescence, a puff of greenish smoke—and then nothing at all.

From The Man in the Maze, by Robert Silverberg.
Published by Avon Books in 1969
Additional resources -

Compare to the Drone Floater Camera from Runaway (1985) by Michael Crichton and the robot tracking device from Vulcan's Hammer (1960) by Philip K. Dick.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Man in the Maze
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Silverberg
  Tech news articles related to The Man in the Maze
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Silverberg

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