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"I've taken some stick for passages in Altered Carbon which people complained had sickened them, but then violence should be sickening."
- Richard Morgan

Parent Drone  
  A drone platform that launches smaller drones.  

So the parent drone carries a spotter that it launches to confirm the presence of the target. The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face - probably uses a cheap pocket camera face-detection chip to make a list of human faces that it compares with target photos...

Once the target is confirmed, it uses an IR laser to send a coded signal back to the parent, clearing it to attack.

From Kill Decision, by Daniel Suarez.
Published by Penguin in 2012
Additional resources -

Compare to midges from Quantico (2005) by Greg Bear.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Kill Decision
  More Ideas and Technology by Daniel Suarez
  Tech news articles related to Kill Decision
  Tech news articles related to works by Daniel Suarez

Parent Drone-related news articles:
  - DARPA Wants Airborne Launch Facility For Drones

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