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"The first thing that's wrong with being a science-fiction writer today is that the present has caught up with the future and surpassed it."
- Peter Watts

Robot Handlers  
  Small robots used in spacecraft for a variety of useful tasks.  

Small robot handlers were climbing all over the pressure crates, metal spiders no bigger than my hand, stabbing shipping labels with laser lights. I watched as they snapped lines to the pallet's air and water tanks.
From The Golden Globe, by John Varley.
Published by Ace Books in 1998
Additional resources -

Compare to the Earth-bound autoporter from John Brunner's 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider.

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