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"We'd have most of what we predicted of the conquest of space, if we hadn't ignored parasite control."
- Larry Niven

Loiter-Drone  
  A autonomous flying device that hovers protectively over a defined area.  

Interesting concept now under active development.

The ship's ruins had only been discovered because somebody in a flier had crashed, fatally, into one of the great curving ribs (perfectly holo-disguised at the time as sheer and invitingly clear sky)... it had been cordoned off and a series of airborne loiter-drones posted on indefinite guard above, just in case.
Technovelgy from The Algebraist, by Iain M Banks.
Published by Orbit in 2004
Additional resources -

The idea of having some sort of airborne craft that can indefinitely watch over a defined area is being worked on with different technologies. Consider the DARPA Vulture:


(DARPA Vulture - aircraft with a 5 year flight plan)

Compare to the raytron apparatus from Beyond the Stars (1928) by Ray Cummings, the scarab robot flying insect from The Scarab (1936) by Raymond Z. Gallun, the artificial eye drone from Glimpse (1938) by Manly Wade Wellman, eyes from This Moment of the Storm (1966) by Roger Zelazny, the Ultraminiature Spy-Circuit from The Unknown (1972) by Christopher Anvil, copseyes from Cloak of Anarchy (1972) by Larry Niven, the sky ball from A Day For Damnation (1985) by David Gerrold, the drone floater camera from Runaway (1985) by Michael Crichton, the aerostat monitor from The Diamond Age (1995) by Neal Stephenson and the bee cam from City of Pearl (2004) by Karen Traviss.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Algebraist
  More Ideas and Technology by Iain M Banks
  Tech news articles related to The Algebraist
  Tech news articles related to works by Iain M Banks

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