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A small (usually basketball sized or smaller) robot whose only purpose in life is to record or transmit an A/V feed. Usually hovers, but other variations exist.

They sometimes overlap with Spy Bots but are more closely related to harmless Attack Drones, likewise, sometimes they are magical instead of technological in nature. Contrast Animal Eye Spy.


Anime & Manga

  • Mahou Sensei Negima: Asakura's artifact, the Oculus Corvinus/Raven's Eyes. Six small, flying robots used for spying and information-gathering. Perfect for the School Newspaper Newshound.
    • A recent chapter comes up with a more complicated use for them, which involves using a ghost to transmit information from one camera to another, so other people can watch the action without being detected.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has the Wide Area Search spell, which has Raising Heart releasing inconspicuous floating energy orbs that remotely scan areas.
  • The Android Saga of Dragon Ball Z revealed that Red Ribbon Army scientist Dr Gero had insect-sized robots monitoring the heroes for years, studying their techniques so his Androids would know exactly how to beat them. Another, possibly separate, robot was collecting DNA samples so he could create Cell.


  • Marvel Universe: the Rigellian Recorders.
  • Astro City: In the story Father's Day, Jack-In-The-Box has one in the fight with the Brass Monkey. This is because he's the third Jack-In-The-Box, taking over for his predecessor whose wife is having a child. The camera lets Jack-2 monitor from his basement headquarters and give Jack-3 advice and tactical updates.


  • A non-mobile version was used to hack into a building security system in Sneakers.
  • Star Wars: Hovercam droids and a few probe droids
  • The Incredibles: Syndrome used these on his remote volcanic island hideout
  • In the Felix the Cat movie, the Duke used floating cubes with spotlights shining out of them as a sort of observation device to support his army of mechanized cylinders.
  • Big Trouble in Little China had one these spying for the evil sorcerer Wu Pang
  • In Back To The Future II, after a ruckus outdoors, hovering robots owned by USA Today swoop down and begin taking pictures for tomorrow's paper.

Live Action TV

  • Stargate Universe: the Confession Cam.
  • Stargate SG-1: Goa'uld have access to these.
    • The SGC's MALP probes may qualify as a more primitive variation.
      • For that matter, so would the UAV drones.
  • Stargate Atlantis: the Wraith have them, as well.
  • Human journalists in Babylon 5 regularly use hovering cameras.
  • MST3K has its CamBot.
  • The New Twilight Zone episode "To See The Invisible Man" had floating security drones used to watch for people breaking laws.
  • One of these turned up in the Doctor Who story Silence In The Library as a link to Cal.
    • A Classic Series Doctor Who example: The Fifth Doctor's second story, Four to Doomsday, also featured a similar device, known as the Monopticon, patrolling the corridors of Monarch's massive spaceship.


  • One of these (called a "Public Eye") appears near the beginning of Robert Heinlein's novel Friday. It's used by police to detect crimes in progress.
  • Larry Niven's short story "Cloak of Anarchy" had the Copseye, which was used to monitor Free Parks. It also had a stunner to knock out lawbreakers.
  • Uglies: Aya has one of these named Moggle that she treats like a pet.
  • The optic probe device used by the Martians in War of the Worlds - the book and all movies - roughly fills this trope.

Real Life

  • Micro Air Vehicles are being designed for the army.
  • There was, for a time, a plan to develop softball-sized robots of this type for use on the International Space Station. They would be capable of moving about on their own by using ducted fans to produce thrust. Since the ISS is in a microgravity environment, they would effectively be capable of flying around the station in adherence to the spirit of the trope. Likely served as the inspiration for the SGU Kinos mentioned above.
  • The Air Hogs Hawk-eye is the civilian version, you can even post your findings online.

Tabletop RPG

Video Game

  • Fallout 3: Eyebot robots, have a defence laser but are usually friendly to the player character.
    • Though despite the name, there is no evidence they actually provide surveillance, just floating, moving radios that can defend themselves passably.
      • A RobCo exhibit in Fallout: New Vegas confirms that they can "recognize your face and voice with advanced facial and auditory recognition technology."
    • Some Eyebots in Fallout 3 can call in reinforcements after a certain stage in the game and a random encounter shows two wastelanders discussing whether or not its spying on them whilst it hovers inbetween the pair.
  • Starcraft: Observers
  • Mass Effect: standard issue for reporters.
  • Perfect Dark: the "Camspy".
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Mario: the hover-cam is operated by the cloud-riding Lakitu's, controlling said camera with a fishing pole, odd but close enough.
  • One of the Ogre Magi spells in Warcraft 2.
  • Half-Life 2: Scanners.
  • Deus Ex had an augmentation that allowed you to deploy one of these to scout. It was considered excessively expensive for it's utility.
  • Baldur'sGate2 had a magical one in the form of the Wizard's Eye Spell. It could go anywhere the player could and was invisible, though not invulnerable. Anything that could see through invisibility, could kill it.
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project has a variation that explodes in close proximity to Duke.
  • Modern Warfare: "OUR UAV IS ONLINE!"
  • As you get closer to Cortex's castle in Crash Bandicoot 1996, these start to appear.

Western Animation

  • The press uses them in Batman Beyond.
  • Futurama
  • Wakfu: the noxies.
    • By "noxies", do you mean the little bug like machines that Nox sends out? The ones that have on several occasions been shown to drain the wakfu from things? Yeah, they're completely harmless and only used for scouting.
  • The non-syndicated Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon, affectionately known as SatAM - featured such "spy orbs" utilized by Robotnik to monitor his city.
  • The Autobots' Sky Spy from Transformers Generation 1 was a long range satellite version of this.

Web Comics