"I'm very taken by mythology. I read it at a very early age and kept on reading it. Before I discovered science fiction I was reading mythology."
There must be an earlier reference to this idea somewhere, but I can't think of it. Niven and Pournelle use small, remote-controlled robots to be the "eyes and ears" of Tony Rand, the chief engineer of a massive arcology, Todos Santos.
The authors even provide us with some possible limits of the device, particularly during interactions with people:
Robot Probes (Arr-twos)-related
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Oh, and now I suppose someone will develop the robotic porch pirate.
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