Drones are autonomous or semi-autonomous machines that often serve as the physical housing for AIs. They are what less advanced civilisations might call "robots".
Independent drones - those of individual, human-equivalent intelligence - were considered fully sentient and enjoyed the same rights as human Culture citizens and Minds. Non-sentient drones were used in the Culture as machines, often controlled by AIs or Minds, for a wide variety of purposes such as construction, manual labour, serving Culture citizens, and warfare. Drones were considered genderless in the Culture, taking the personal pronouns "it" and "they".
Culture drones took on a variety of shapes and sizes depending on their occupation or role within society. Members of Special Circumstances tended to have a plain, functional appearance, like a grey or metallic suitcase, allowing them to blend in to alien civilisations as required. Normal citizens' appearance varied from the mundane to the ornate, sometimes comprising materials such as porcelain and precious stones.
Being machines, drones can communicate electronically by means of transceiver. In the Culture, it was considered polite for multiple drones who were communicating this way in public to position themselves into a lattice-like arrangement.
Drones use a number of field technologies, including anti-gravity and maniple, to interact with the world around them in lieu of physical appendages. Maniple fields can be used to emulate a wide range of physical characteristics, effectively allowing drones to touch, feel, and manipulate matter down to the micrometer scale.
- ↑ Surface Detail, Nine
- ↑ A Few Notes on the Culture
- ↑ Consider Phlebas, Prologue
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 The Player of Games, 1: Culture Plate
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Consider Phlebas, State of play: one
- ↑ Use of Weapons, One
- ↑ Excession, 8: Killing Time, III
- ↑ Use of Weapons, Four
- ↑ Look to Windward, 1: The Light of Ancient Mistakes
- ↑ Excession, 3: Uninvited Guests, II