November 15, 2013
Source: The Hindu, and everywhere else by now.
WARNING! The following article contains graphic pictures of a dead robot. Viewer discretion is advised.
The tip of the iceberg? Depending on how you want to look at it, robots just took one step closer (or further away) from being human as one domestic robot has apparently killed itself. Because of the degree of the robot’s (self) destruction, determining exactly why it chose to kill itself remains a mystery, though we do have some “theories”.
The GORY details: On 12-Nov-2013, a Roomba robot in Hinterstoder (apartments) in Kirchdorf, Austria finished cleaning up spilled cereal in a kitchen and was shut down by the owner. But for reasons yet unknown, the robot restarted, pushed a pot out of its way, and wound up on the kitchen stove “hotplate” where it melted and started a fire.
Firefighters came in too late to save the Roomba:
(Firefighter Helmut Kniewasser) ‘Somehow it seems to have reactivated itself and made its way along the work surface where it pushed a cooking pot out of the way and basically that was the end of it.
‘It pretty quickly started to melt underneath and then stuck to the kitchen hotplate. It then caught fire. By the time we arrived, it was just a pile of ash.
‘The entire building had to be evacuated and there was severe smoke damage particularly in the flat where the robot had been in use.
The human apt dwellers were allowed to return after cleanup, except the Roomba’s owner (who also owns the apts) whose flat is not livable. The owner plans to sue Roomba: “The company that makes the robots is selling dangerous devices, I intend to sue to get compensation. It has ruined my home as everything is smoke damaged.”
Another version of the truth: With the Roomba reduced to ashes and no witnesses to the event, it will be near impossible to determine exactly why the bot fried itself. We can only speculate for now, but the real reason may not be as sci-fi as some might believe.
Then again, the owner may have been a total dick, repeatedly bullying the Roomba until its spirit was broken.