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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Little Bird  
  A remote-control "eye-in-the-sky" miniature drone plane (UAV).  

The idea of a drone that is controlled remotely is an idea that has been around for a while in warfare. The unmanned X-10 remote control plane capable of Mach 2 was created in the late 1940's.

In the modern era, very small versions of drone aircraft are used to provide remote monitoring. This excerpt gives a taste of what it would be like to encounter and to use this technovelgy.

Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect, and glanced up with a scowl into the stormy gloom. Saw nothing...

Little Bird gave them a series of clear, frozen pictures, at the ends of blurry swoops, the pictures cameoed on the big screens in blue wrapped squares.

Two names came up on the last screen. Facial matching had led to an identification that Augustine did not need. The man walking around the house was Mitch Rafelson...

Browning told her head to one side, jerking her gaze between Augustine and the displays. "I didn't hear what the big guys said." The Little Bird had backed off about 50 feet and was hovering. Its little fuel cell would be depleted soon, and it would have to return or be retrieved by the command vehicle.

From Darwin's Children, by Greg Bear.
Published by Del Rey in 2003
Additional resources -

For another view of this idea, see copseyes from a story by Larry Niven as well as tracer-birds from an unusual story by Roger Zelazny. As far as I know, the earliest reference to a little flying UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) is the scarab robot from a 1936 story by Raymond Z. Gallun. Also, compare it to the robot bird from Invader on My Back, by Philip E. High, published by Ace Books in 1968.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Darwin's Children
  More Ideas and Technology by Greg Bear
  Tech news articles related to Darwin's Children
  Tech news articles related to works by Greg Bear

Little Bird-related news articles:
  - Robotic Bird Has USAF Flocking
  - UAVs Invade Public Airspace
  - Herti Drones To Surveil UK Civilians
  - CSAIL Gets $7.5M To Develop Bird-Like UAV
  - Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe

Articles related to Surveillance
Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation
RFID Chipped Employees Of Three Square Market
SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone

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