Auxons are small, 1 to 3 inches in length, and are relatively simple machines. They are designed to be fired at a distant target such as a moon, planet, asteroid, or even a comet. Once landed and deployed, the machines built their own infrastructure and logistics system. Working like ants, the machines search for certain elements and extract them from the ground they have landed on. Auxons typically run on solar power, and have a central base that serves as a command and control center, a logistics hub, and a recharging station.
Auxons work in a fashion that most people assume replicators and nanoforges do, just on a much larger scale. Rather than involving large amounts of mining equipment, personnel, and expensive space missions to reach distant targets, auxon missions use robots to do the same thing. A small group of auxons can quickly replicate themselves, and create a sizable work force. This is done with a minimal investment in fuel and other resources, but is reliant on a long timeline.
Ice Mining - fired at comets and other icy bodies, auxons replicate from a predetermined amount of matter sent with the mission. The machines extract water and other volatiles from the comet while simultaneously wrapping it in a super thin cocoon to prevent gases from escaping. Once the comet comes into harvesting range, a mining or refinery ship can catch/dock with the body and begin loading pre-processed materials.
Asteroid mining - as per ice mining, but more emphasis on capturing metal ores and precious materials. An auxon mining system could be fired towards an asteroid, where it would begin hollowing the structure out and excreting metal ingots or other pre-programmed shapes and structures for easy removal when the collection ship arrives.
Geoforming - Several auxon packs cold be sent to a much larger object, such as Mars, where they have instructions to not so much mine as to prepare landing pads and other structures to support colonists. In a fairly short amount of time, a decade or two, an auxon mission could have the foundations of a city laid on another planet.
Subversive Activities - militarized auxons could be used to break down existing hardware, such as eating mecha and vehicles sitting in mothballs, ships that are not on active duty, or be injected into the infrastructure of a megastructure to eat it inside out like robot termites. These can also be programmed to build larger more combat ready robots similar in structure to the original auxon. This application is prohibited by the Tycho conventions.
The Destroyer - an anomalous auxon swarm, the Destroyer is contaminated and technically classified as a hekatonkheire. Held in stasis, the Destroyer is currently approximately 3,000 auxons. When the Destroyer manifested on an off-world dimensional fatigue event, it demonstrated the ability to plan, lay traps, and exploit the emotional vulnerabilities of the crew of the classified mining station. Over the course of it's rampage, it destroyed the mining station, consumed half of the scuttled mining ship, manifested a number of larger autonomous swarms, and the frightening ability to merge into larger constructs such as human sized 'cyber-spiders' and a single mecha sized humanoid entity. The Destroyer was immobilized with a combination of cryogenic weapons and EMP bombardment. It was encased in ice and subjected to regular EMPs to keep the neural network from reforming. It is currently being held at an unnamed Federation Containment Facility.
Locust - a prototype auxon swarm, Locust is designed for harvesting plant and plant matter. Once the flight capable swarm strips a field of the available corn/wheat/soy, the machines return and shred the remain plant stalks and biomass and either render it down for compost, or transfer it to a new location for further processing. Locust is getting favorable test results, as the machines are environmentally friendly, and have a negligible impact on surrounding terrain. New plans are being engineered for Locust friendly farm planning, removing the need for tractors or agro-robots.
Street Sweeper - another prototype auxon swarm, Street Sweeper has been designed to replace sanitation and janitorial workers. The swarm continually monitors it's given zone and it removes debris it finds and can be programmed with cleaning protocols, such as washing surfaces, and applying chemicals like solvents, detergents, waxes, and such. The auxons form a neural network that is guided by a central AI, and quickly and quietly keep the trash thrown out, the recyclable separated, and the floors swept and waxed.
Hornet - A prototype military auxon swarm, Hornet is weaponized, with the small dronelets being packed with a micro-explosive. The swarm doesn't pelt itself against a target like slow moving bullets, but rather infiltrates a location such as a supply depot, mechadrome, or other logistics or support area. Once there, the small robots are programmed to seek out vulnerable locations, attach themselves, and then detonate. Tests have shown the robots climbing inside vacant power armor suits, helmets, into gear lockers and such, ruining the equipment with small explosions. Some even demonstrated the devious tactic of climbing into the sleeping space of soldiers and personnel, exploding in a manner that would kill or maim. AI guided swarms were even more successful, sending their explosive fingers into mecha, on site power generators, and even going as far as inducing a dimensional fatigue event by sabotaging a dimensional reactor. This group of tests has sent the auxon designer to the drawing boards to find a way to counter their own creation, creating an anti-Hornet system.