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"Generally, the human race avoids doing anything radical until forced into it."
- Frederik Pohl

Claws (Attack Robot)  
  Autonomous guard robots that attack living tissue.  

They are made in underground factories; they come up from underground and attack anything that lives.

Across the ground something small and metallic came, flashing in the dull sunlight of midday. A metal sphere, it raced up the hill after the Russian, its treads flying. It was small, one of the baby ones. Its claws were out, two razor projections spinning in a blur of white steel. The Russian heard it. He turned instantly, firing... already a second had emerged and was following the first...

A third sphere leaped up the Russian's leg, clicking and whirring. It jumped to the shoulder. The spinning blades disappeared into the Russian's throat.

From Second Variety, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Space in 1953
Additional resources -

Here's a little more detail:

"It doesn't take them long. Not after the first one gets in. It goes wild. You know what the little claws can do. Even one of these is beyond belief. Razors, each finger. Maniacal."

Off to the right something scuttled, something round and metallic. A claw, going lickety-split after something. Probably after a small animal, a rat. They got rats, too. As a sort of sideline.

The claws got faster and they got bigger. New types appeared, some with feelers, some that flew. There were a few jumping kinds...

Some of the little claws were learning to hide themselves, burrowing down into the ash, lying in wait.

And they started getting into bunkers, slipping down when the lids were raised for air and a look around. One claw inside a bunker, a churning sphere of blades and metal - that was enough. And when one got in others followed.

This short story was the inspiration for the 1995 film Screamers.


(Claws - or Screamers - from the 1995 movie)

Screamers are the claws described above, "...churning sphere of blades and metal ... spinning, creeping, shaking themselves up suddenly from the grey ash..." to attack any warm body.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Second Variety
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Second Variety
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

Claws (Attack Robot)-related news articles:
  - Screamers - PKD's Claws - The Robotic Research Begins
  - Soldiers Learn To Trust Robots
  - Robotic Underground Munitions
  - Armed Robots Bad Idea
  - 'Sandfish' Robot Moves Through Sand
  - Coman Bully-Resistant Robot
  - Self-Burying Robots - What Could Go Wrong?

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SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend

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