Feeds

Robot goes berserk in Balkan lab: 6 boffins given dead arms

Vending-machine repair unit's violent rampage

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The location: Deep in remote East-central Europe, the very stamping grounds of Igor and Dr Frankenstein. The scene: A laboratory, where dedicated scientists are toiling to create powerful artificial servants for the betterment of humanity - admittedly, using methods that their professional colleagues might deem questionable.

We all know what happens next. But life just isn't like that in reality.

Except that today it is, because reports are coming in from Slovenia of a horrifying and yet unambiguously newsworthy incident in which several scientists have reportedly been set upon and brutally beaten by a robot they were working on in their Ljubljana laboratory.

"A powerful robot has been hitting people over and over again," reports New Scientist, which broke the news of the mechanical rampage to an astonished world.

The pop-sci mag goes on to describe the robotic beatings in horrific detail. No fewer than six Slovenian boffins, all thought to be male, were struck "repeatedly on the arm" during the laboratory incident, in which a robot of a type normally employed in assembling vending machines went violently berserk and bludgeoned the men with an assortment of blunt instruments or sharp tools it had picked up using its powerful, motorised articulated arm.

There are sinister hints - indeed, outright assertions - in the article that in fact the droid assailant had been purposely programmed to attack the men by one of their colleagues, Borut Povše, a junior robot boffin at the University of Ljubljana. The six men were said to have suffered pain and injuries ranging from "mild" to "unbearable" as the rogue machine administered vicious and repeated dead arms.

Povše brazenly defended his actions to the magazine, insisting that the robot attacks had not been a malicious prank or prompted by nefarious motives - for instance professional jealousy, or a desire to conquer the world at the head of an invincible army of robotic playground bullies.

Rather, Povše contended, he had instructed his metal henchman to attack the other scientists in order to discover better ways to program robots not to hurt people. Amazingly, this flimsy story was apparently accepted by some elements of the roboboffinry community.

"Determining the limits of pain during robot-human impacts this way will allow the design of robot motions that cannot exceed these limits," German space-agency brainbox Sami Haddadin commented to New Scientist, adding that he personally had programmed one of his own robots to attack him with a knife earlier this year in the style of Inspector Clouseau and his servant Kato.

More mainstream scientists active in the field of powerful mechanical servants, however, looked askance on the Slovenian boffin's methods. Texas-based specialist Michael Liebschner brought an American perspective on hearing of the affair, commenting "that's when litigation starts". ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.