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"This category [science fiction] excludes rocket ships that make U-turns, serpent men of Neptune that lust after human maidens, and stories by authors who flunked their Boy Scout merit badge tests in descriptive astronomy."
- Robert Heinlein

Robot Mice  
  Tiny cleaning robots.  

This item comes from a short story that is a Cold War classic, and well worth reading.

Nine-fifteen, sang the clock, time to clean.

Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted. The rooms were acrawl with the small cleaning animals, all rubber and metal. They thudded against chairs, whirling their mustached runners, kneading the rug nap, sucking gently at hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. Their pink electric eyes faded. The house was clean.

From The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.
Published by Various in 1950
Additional resources -

And for larger items, the 'copper scrap rats' would come and seize the offending matter with their miniature jaws.

Although the iRobot Roomba is perhaps more famous, the world's first automatic vacuum cleaner is the Electrolux Trilobite, presented to the public on the BBC in 1997.

This item comes from the story There Will Come Soft Rains, published in 1950.



(Wally Woods' cartoon version)

Robot mouse fans might also be interested in the Greg Bear's dustmice, tiny robotic detectives from his 1990 novel Queen of Angels. As far as I know, the first example of this kind of technovelgy are the golden shuttles from a 1941 story by Eric Frank Russell (writing under a pseudonym).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Martian Chronicles
  More Ideas and Technology by Ray Bradbury
  Tech news articles related to The Martian Chronicles
  Tech news articles related to works by Ray Bradbury

Robot Mice-related news articles:
  - Electrolux Trilobite: Programmable Robot Vacuum Cleaner
  - AMouse: Bradbury's Robot Mice Get Real Whiskers
  - BIOTACT Whiskered Robot Rat
  - Fukitorimushi Floor-Cleaning Robot - An Inchworm Dust Mop
  - SCRATCHbot Robot Rat Whiskers Video
  - Mini Robot Swarms
  - Kilobot Robot Swarm
  - Shrewbot Uses Whiskers As Sensors
  - OMG! DIY Arduino Robot Vacuum Cleaner Like Bradbury's Mice
  - Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats

Articles related to Robotics
Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
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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