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"This is a predictive tool I've used: There are goals we've sought for ten thousand years, and we'll go on seeking them. Instant transport and travel, immortality (or at least longevity and miracle cures.), instant learning "
- 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.
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)

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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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