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"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Dog Pod Grid  
  A swarm of quasi-independent aerostatic devices.  

The reason for including this entry, as well as one for aerostat, is that these machines are capable of communicating with each other. This communication allows them to coordinate their movements.

Atlantis/Shanghai occupied the loftiest ninety percent of New Chusan's land area - an inner plateau about a mile above sea level, where the air was cooler and cleaner. Parts of it were marked off with a lovely wrought-iron fence, but the real border was defended by something called the dog pod grid - a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats...

These pods were programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern about ten centimeters apart near the ground (close enough to stop a dog but not a cat, hence "dog pods") and spaced wider as they got higher.

From The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson.
Published by Bantam Books in 1995
Additional resources -

Together, they form a protective swarm.

In nature, bees swarm for a purpose; an ageing queen, overcrowding, poor ventilation in the hive. In flight, bee swarms approximate the kind of distance between individuals shown in a dog pod grid, with several thousand individuals spread through a volume the size of a minivan, flying together. However, when a bee swarm settles, the individuals congregate in a dense volume roughly the size of a football.

"Guard" bees don't fly around the hive to protect it; they stand guard in an aggressive stance at the entrance to the hive, checking individuals upon entry.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Diamond Age
  More Ideas and Technology by Neal Stephenson
  Tech news articles related to The Diamond Age
  Tech news articles related to works by Neal Stephenson

Dog Pod Grid-related news articles:
  - COTS Scout: Team Building Robot
  - Nano Quadrotors Form Stephenson's Dog Pod Grid
  - Autonomous UAV Surveillance Swarm
  - Flyfire Micro-Helicopter Display
  - Improve MAVs By Studying Bees In Flight
  - Largest Micro-Drone Swarm Release Successful
  - Drone Catches Drone! In Japan
  - Biggest Drone Swarm Sets World Record
  - Drone 100, Coordinated Drone Performance Team

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