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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Mole Probe  
  Automated devices that seek underground routes, burrowing as they go.  

At the expense of a few mole probes they found out that reaching the city through a tunnel was equally impossible. The moles burrowed into the coarse sandy soil outside the outer walls, chewed themselves passageways fifty meters down, and nosed upward again when they were beneath the maze. They were destroyed by the safety field while still twenty meters below ground level. A try at burrowing in right at the base of the embankments also failed; the field went straight down, apparently, all around the city.
From The Man in the Maze, by Robert Silverberg.
Published by Avon Books in 1969
Additional resources -

Compare to the mechanical mole from Oath of Fealty by Pournelle and Niven (1981), the photic borer from The Great Stone of Sardis (1897) by Frank Stockton, the mechanical earthworm from Death Dives Deep by Paul Ernst (1936), the bore-pellets from Foster, You're Dead (1955) by Philip K. Dick and the automatic shell from The Great Stone of Sardis (1897) by Frank Stockton.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Man in the Maze
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Silverberg
  Tech news articles related to The Man in the Maze
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Silverberg

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