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"The answer to the problem of information overload on the Net is reputations… engineer a system called a reputation server."
- Neal Stephenson

Dustmice  
  Tiny robotic sensors that police could set loose in a crime scene, looking for tiny clues.  

I really like the name for these items; it has a sort of Disney quality that contrasts nicely with their intended use. They do not seem to be nanotechnology, but they are very small robots indeed.

A radio assayer hung from the track mounted in the apartment ceiling, having replaced the sniffer. Dustmice pushed through the cold stiff tendrils of once live carpet searching it for skin flakes and other debris trapped in the carpet's custom digestion.
From Queen of Angels, by Greg Bear.
Published by Warner Books in 1990
Additional resources -

I'm sure that these little robots would be very thorough; I also think that if they went across the floor in my house (after two kids), the little dustmice would run screaming out the door. And if they screamed, would their little tiny voices sound like Bob Newhart and Zsa Zsa Gabor, like in The Rescuers? Just wondering.

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratory succeeded in creating what is described as "the smallest autonomous untethered robot every created." It is a one quarter of an inch cube weighing less than an ounce. It really does turn on a dime (and parks on a nickel). Shown below is a parked bot:

Read the news release at Smallest Mini-Robot. The robots are fabricated using stereolithography; read more about that on the entry for naonfax, from All Tomorrow's Parties, by William Gibson.

Take a look at the grandparents of these little guys - the robot mice from Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story There Will Come Soft Rains.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Queen of Angels
  More Ideas and Technology by Greg Bear
  Tech news articles related to Queen of Angels
  Tech news articles related to works by Greg Bear

Dustmice-related news articles:
  - Micromouse Robot Builders Seek The Brass Cheese

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CyberOne Robot By Xiaomi vs. Optimus Robot By Tesla
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Video! Chess Robot Breaks Opponent's Finger In Match
NAVER Labs Haptic Device 2.0 Robot vs. IKEA

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Science Fiction in the News

CyberOne Robot By Xiaomi vs. Optimus Robot By Tesla
'I shall introduce myself... I am a robot.'

Giving Snakes Their Legs Back
Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to 'help them out.'

'Ring Nation' Show Predicted By William Gibson In 1999
'... you had your trademark Lucky Dragon Global Interactive Video Column outside.'

SolarXOne Solar-Powered Drone Flies (almost) Forever
'It's an Indian Air Force drone; its solar cells could power an entire farm.'

Video! Chess Robot Breaks Opponent's Finger In Match
'A robot may not injure a human being.'

Virtual Co-Embodyment - Two People Control One Virtual Body
'... we were supposed to be forming five unit composites first."

The Wanderer: Eyebot From Fallout, Eye From Zelazny
'We send our eyes on their appointed rounds, and they can hover or soar or back up...'

Experts Decry Planet-Scale Schemes To Limit Global Heating
'Light from the sun hit those little spheres and bounced.'

OrganEx Revives The Organs In Dead Pig
'Wakened into half-life activity one hour a month...'

NAVER Labs Haptic Device 2.0 Robot vs. IKEA
'... the two pairs of waldoes in the screen followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'

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