back to article Australian man killed by suicide robot

An elderly Australian man apparently shot himself dead Tuesday, using an elaborate suicide robot of his own construction, according to media reports. The 81-year-old man who lived alone in Burleigh Heads left a note detailing his macabre machinations, as well as his grievances over his relatives demanding he be committed to a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have a winner

    Darwin award!

    I couldn't resist!

  2. Michael Sheils


    That would be a special kind of determination to go to all the trouble of building a deathbot.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    "The man was soon found dead by the workers — altered by the sound of gunfire"

    I don't think it was the sound of gunfire that altered the man, it was more likely the impact of the bullet(s) that did the altering.

  4. Don Mitchell

    Rules of Robotics

    Obviously never read Asimov's rules of robotics.

  5. Andrew Tyler

    "...altered by the sound of gunfire."

    There's something strangely poetic about that.

  6. kain preacher

    Can we

    Can we make one that works on politicians ?? people pushing national ID cards.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    How did the sound of gunfire alter them exactly?

    And will they be present at the altar?

  8. mike
    Black Helicopters



    .22 handgun? what a painful way to go, suprised he even went.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    "...and set the controls to up yours, Asimov."

    Terminator: "Sara Connor?"

    Lady at front door: "Yes?"

    Terminator: </up yours Asimov> BLAM BLAM BLAM

    Cyberdyne lab coat, thanks.

  10. peter

    Yeah right

    It's called a servo, not a Robot.

  11. Edward Hull

    @We have a winner

    No, by that age I think the genetics would already have been passed on. Besides, darwin awards are for people that do things through lack of thought or stupidity. This was well thought out and intentional.

  12. Fluffykins Silver badge

    @Don Mitchell

    Maybe that's why he left the message "Up yours, Asimov"

  13. Simon Neill

    @We have a winner

    Suicides can't win a DA.

  14. trackSuit

    Asimov's Laws

    Somewhat off topic, though still on the subject of robots...

    Asimov's Laws. Imagined with the best of intentions, I'm sure, though in practice, they will be ignored.

    A robot has two options to defend itself: it can fight, or it can be protected by a third party. To be protected by a third party, it either has to be loved by them or it has to have commercial worth. Ideally it would take both options. If it chooses to fight, it runs the risk of making further enemies -never wise.

    If you do not believe a robot would be abused, then ask someone who hires out radio-controlled androids to people, for promotional events. The tales they tell are astonishing.

    The ugly face of racism will surely show itself, if sentient or semi-intelligent robots start to become commonplace.

    Tux? because he has friends who protect him and provide him with (not red) herrings. Gifts rewarded POST Event, in Gratuitous Acknowledgement of Services Rendered Intelligently, rather than demanded prior to any work being done.

  15. Adam Foxton

    Is anyone else...

    ...having trouble not thinking of Peter Griffin's "breakfast maker" from Family Guy?


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie *BANG BANG BANG*

    Typical Aussie.. Too lazy to even kill his self himself

  17. Simon Goodwin


    cunning plan by the robot that! writing a letter supposedly by the owner, maybe the robot gets all his money from the will?

    there out to get us...

  18. Christopher Rogers

    No winners here, except the prize for engineering.

    We have a winner

    Darwin award!

    No we don't. Darwin award winners don't have the intent to remove themselves from the gene pool, God permits their actions to make it so.

  19. Sam


    A .22 can kill at a kilometre.

    Subsonic .22 ammo is the round of choice with certain errm, organisations when a quiet job is called for.

  20. Elmer Phud
    Paris Hilton

    Not a Darwin candidate

    Darwin awards are for those who manage to top themselves with sheer grit, determination and pure stupidity. It can't be applied here as the vic/perp/stiff carefully set out to Heath-Robinson himself to death.

    Seems to have worked rather well.

    Now, if he'd spent years designing and building the device and it got a short-circuit and zapped him or fell out of a window and got someone else . . .

    Paris -- something to do with electro-mechanical devices

  21. Edwin
    IT Angle


    Probably no darwin award for this one.

    Chances are he procreated already, which leaves him ineligible.

  22. Ru


    I think Eddie Izzard first suggested that is wasn't guns that kill people, its the nasty loud noise they make. Especially is you have a dodgy heart.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Darwin award/robot

    I'm not sure that this counts as a Darwin award on a couple of counts:

    1: It was not an accident - it did what he intended.

    2: He mentioned his family, therefore the gene pool is already polluted.

    The real question is: why did it take him hours of searching on the internet to work out how to do this?

    Step 1: use a pole and some gaffa tape to hold gun at the correct height.

    Step 2: using some string (or twine), tie a slip knot around the trigger.

    Step 3: stand in front of gun, holding rope

    Step 4: pull on rope

    Step 5: realise that the gun wasn't loaded; load gun and return to step 3.

    Fit the criteria: remote control (adjust length of string) and 'capable of firing multiple shots' (in 2 ways: if you miss with the first shot, loosen knot and try again, or for a continuous stream of shots use a fully automatic gun)

    Note: I haven't tested this; it may not work. It has a distinct advantage over a 'robot' in that it wouldn't fail in the event of an untimely power cut!

    Note2: I accept no responsibility for any idiot who actually goes and builds the above; furthermore, I claim patent rights so if you do build it, I require 1 million pounds sterling in untraceable small denominations notes BEFORE you use it.

  24. ImaGnuber


    Actually it is a reasonable approach (4 shots) if you are determined to off yourself. Many years ago I worked in a hospital and saw the results of a failed gunshot suicide - eeew.

    There are many ways gunshot suicides can fail - not all due to the ineptness of person attempting it.

  25. Alan Potter
    Dead Vulture

    Can't be a Darwin award...

    ...those are awarded to fuckwits who died accidentally through their own stupidity. So unless this guy thought he could somehow dodge the bullets or was hoping that someone would rescue him at the last minute, I don't think this was accidental, nor do I think the guy was stupid. The fact that he had the ingenuity to build a machine like this, I think, shows why had had no intention of going to a nursing home, having his intellect sucked from him by dribbling wrinklies whose idea of an intellectual challenge is finishing the crossword in "Best" or winning the bingo.

    Well done to him, I say, although I personally would have chosen something a little less potentially painful...

  26. Kwac


    No Darwin Award here; he was 81.

    What were his chances of breeding (THE basis for a Darwin Award)?

  27. strcmp


    That's nothing against the 'chainsaw robot' (timer and chainsaw)


  28. james marley
    Dead Vulture

    @We have a winner

    at the ripe old age of 83 he might already have been effectivly removed from the gene pool so probably doesn't qualify.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    .22 Cal handgun ?

    Thats gotta hurt, even a headshot it would still hurt. No painless death here.

  30. Tim Bates

    Re: Yeah right

    After reading the article, I kind of agree... A simply solanoid or servo arrangement and a circuit to make it pulse a few times.

    Not a robot.

  31. JK
    Black Helicopters

    Re: ROTM


    He should've opted for at least a .357/9mm -- or larger. I suspect that a double barrel shotgun would do the trick as well, but that depends on whether you want to leave your face intact or not.

    I mean, if I were opting for a *painless* and quick way of going, I'd opt for point-blank at my cranium. :p


    So why did he kill himself anyways? Must've been a damn good reason to go through all that trouble.

  32. Andy

    Darwin award

    He is not a candidate for a Darwin award. The death was deliberate and not the result of outrageous stupidity. It's not even that funny aside from the Reg dressing it up a little. Not as funny as somebody giving himself a sherry enema at least.

  33. Wize

    @Don Mitchell

    "Obviously never read Asimov's rules of robotics."

    Thus the 'up yours Asimov' setting.

    No three laws on that bad boy.

  34. XML slave


    Despite conventional wisdom, the .22 handgun is very effective at point blank ranges when fired into the skull. There's enough penetration to get into the skull, but not powerful enough to cause an exit wound. The round spends some time ricocheting around in the skull a bit. It's not ideal for random street violence or police grade weaponry, but for terminating one's self it's fairly effective. He probably came across that while researching his killing machine.

    Highly effective yet completely ludicrous method. I feel sad now.

    The coat with the Jolly Roger on it, please.

  35. ElementOfChaos

    Sorry, no winner

    This guy put some thought into this and that's usually not required for the Darvin Awards.

    Maybe he was just watching mythbusters and copied one of their firing rigs

  36. Anonymous Coward

    @darwin award

    Not sure if this would rate a Darwin award, as the man was obviously intelligent enough to build the robot, and offed himself after careful planning, not after uttering "Hey y'all, watch this!"...

    I've heard that a 22 caliber shot to the head is one of the preferred methods of execution by professional assassins...

  37. Jack Haughey


    Is this the origin of Bender's "Suicide booth"?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Half-a-job reportage !

    Clearly the guy was an engineer in his youth and wanted to show off.

    An Oz guy? So Lewis, just how many beers were involved in the incident? Details, details Pffft!

    It is true what the others have said though. A .22 Long Rifle round even though just barely supersonic will do a decent job at short range.

    That reminds me, I must get some more rimfire practice in before the compo at the club.

    I think the Oz politicians will be all over this like a rash. The guy was a tosser for bringing the sport into disrepute.

  39. J

    @We have a winner

    Has anyone pointed out that was wrong yet?

    Sigh. No wonder there are bucket loads of creationists out there. People can't even grasp the Darwin Awards' rules...

  40. Kurt Guntheroth

    Has anyone actually *read* Asimov?

    Asimov wrote the fameous three laws as the background for a collection of short stories demonstrating just how and why the laws don't, and can't work.

    Besides, who's gonna buy a robot that won't do your killing for you? Not the boys in olive drab. Not the rich. Hackers might, but they'd just fiddle it. Actually, I guess with hackers it doesn't matter who buys it if they can fiddle it.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The guy was a tosser for bringing the sport into disrepute"

    What sport would that be? Is offing yourself a sport? Their olympics must get a bit messy.

    The high jump:

    "I was a bit dissapointed with that one. He just stepped off the building."

    "Yeah, but great splash. I'd award him the full five watermelons!"

    "Next up - Servo-Controlled Automatic Weapons!"


  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Dignity ...

    ... for some might be choosing the time and means of your departure.

    Clearly, mentioning a Darwin Award indicates a lack of understanding of what a Darwin Award is.

    Underestimating the effectiveness of a .22 cal round has no doubt resulted in real Darwin Award candidates we could safely speculate ...

    Painful? Certainly less than spending what remains of your life in a nursing home.

    No need to worry that politicians would use this as ammunition. They are not that far removed from chimpanzees, who find that their own feces makes particularly effective ammunition and is economically self-produced.

    I know who I'll be toasting at the pub tonight!

    Here's to creativity and dignity!

  43. WhatWasThat?

    The other side of the story

    ... And I suppose that no one has throught through that this was a setup by the "concerned" offspring, intent on seeing they keep their inheritance, instead of having it blown on high-cost terminal health care?

  44. Matt Caldwell

    Has anybody found it?

    I wanna know what he built other than "scary suicide 'robot'." But after google searching it all I can find is a band and this story twelve other places. Go figure.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    No means No!

    He said, "NO" to the retirement home. Sometimes, no really means NO!

  46. Anonymous Coward


    ... almost as much as would be required to climb several thousand feet up a mountain in sub-zero temperatures, get pissed and start sunbathing...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it bad...

    ... after so long in computer vision I am finding myself wondering if this system used a viola jones face detector. I mean it could, locate the face, measure the distance between the eyes, target a point above the centre of the eyes by approximately 50% of that measurement...

    Suffice to say anyone who goes that way better not put my name on the suicide note.

  48. Col
    Thumb Up

    "Up yours, Asimov" ?!

    That's gold!

  49. kain preacher


    Oh Mark_T, depending the ammo you get a .22lr is more than just merely supersonic. It can be as little as 360 m/s to 533 m/s. Sound is around 340 m/s

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: kain preacher

    Dude, I suggest you get a book on ballistics from the library. Even Wiki will educate you better.

    Since this guy lived in a sub-urban area and used a semi-auto pistol it is unlikely he had it for vermin control. Most likely it was for target plinking.

    Apart from pistols, Oz has absolutely draconian gun laws. Many English speaking countries do since a spate of killings in the 90's. No politician ever lost votes hammering private gun ownership whether it helped or not.

    I'm getting tired of Reg Comments being used for point scoring especially by the unenlightened. I expect I'll just stop reading them soon.

  51. Jerry

    Bloody Aussies! They nicked our Pavlova - now they are nicking our infernal machines

    The self-same thing was invented and executed (pun intended) in New Zealand around 25-30 years ago.

    In that case the bloke chained himself in a frame with 22 rifle and arranged a timer delay triggered by when he pulled a plug out of the wall. He then spent a significant amount of time unable to move and waiting till the timer triggered.

    NZ has always been an unrecognised leader in the world - look at how the publicity machine of the Wright Brothers stole rightful recognition from Richard Pierce for the world's first powered manned flight:

  52. David Ross Smith
    Gates Horns

    @Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie *BANG BANG BANG*

    Lazy? He went to the trouble of building a ROBOT to kill him, instead of just pulling the trigger himself...

    Seriously, though, it really isn't that funny for those close to him.

    Other icons I could have used: IT?; Joke Alert!; Skull and Crossbones; Coat.

    But I picked Billy G because I reckon that part of it is due to insanity from using Windows...

  53. Robert Heffernan

    Look at it from his perspective!

    As an Aussie myself, I feel a certain obligation to defend the poor old guy.

    Australian nursing homes over the last few years have been highlighted to be in a rather poor state of affairs (and I feel a sense of shame over it). The staff treat the residents with disrespect and abuse, the ones who are no longer able to take care of their own toilet needs are often left for hours on end sitting in bed in their own waste. There have even been deaths from outbreaks of diarrhea from poor food preparation in nursing homes.

    Needless to say that the nursing home system here is in a piss-poor state and is in dire need of an overhaul.

    Then there is the family, they really need to take a long hard look at themselves. The gentleman in question would have spent many many years working hard to provide for them, only to be told in his later years by the ingrates that he isn't wanted and is being put in one of the afore mentioned nursing homes while they sell off his home and all his belongings, presumably to cash-in on property prices.

    Personally, if it was me, the "robot" I built wouldn't have been for outdoors use. I would have mounted a collection of guns under the kitchen table for the next time I invited the ingrates over for dinner.

    Mines the one with the frag grenades and "Death To Ingrates" on the back!

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Jesus H. Christ

    How many of you clowns felt the need to point out that this guy was not a Darwin Award Candidate? I thought this place attracted a slightly higher IQ calibre of poster but apparently not.

    This guy ensured that his passing would generate quite a splash by the method of his self-dispatch which was probably the idea. I expect he'd have got a small paragraph in the back of the local free advertising paper if he'd just put the gun to his temple. Instead he's ensured that a lot of idiots on a website have wasted an inordinate amount of time pointlessly discussing him.

    Another interesting means of dispatch is the home-made guillotine. I particularly remember hearing of a case a few years back but if you Google there have actually been lots of instances of such Heath Robinson-esque farewells to the cruel world.

  55. Johnny Rotten

    makes sense

    it makes sense that early adopters would use robots to perform the most grisly of tasks in society.

    It's food for thought. Anyone who commercializes robots with the ability to manipulate weapons will have to deal with the issues around them being used for negative purposes (suicide, murder, robbery).

    On the other hand, it probably points out a good market. If it's okay to sell guns, I suppose there's nothing wrong with selling more intelligent weapons (robots with guns). I'm not sure if there are laws around remote control firing mechanisms. (although a trigger is remote control, depending on your point of view).

    It's possible that the rise of the machines will come from individual citizens, as opposed to corporations or governments. ....gotta run, the bots are nagging


  56. Mike Hocker

    NIce Guy

    Lots of people take themselves out using, say, a shotgun in the kitchen and cause all sorts of messy and expensive damage.

    This bloke builds a deathbot (why is he nursing home fodder if he can build a deathbot?), and politely sets it up in his driveway and plinks a .22-- the bullet probably did not even exit and ding the garage door!

    A little hosing off the driveway and house is ready to sell.

    Oz ought to give him a posthumous award for cleverness and saving the taxpayers' money.

  57. Charles Hammond

    N0 Last video?

    No Youtube video????

    I feel cheated.

  58. kain preacher


    Did you read what I said ?? I said depending on the ammo. I never said that he was the higher velocity ammo. I simply said depending on the ammo it can be more than just barely super sonic. Even the wikki you posted supports that, but I'll trust my shooters bible over wikki.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    life imitates art

    Hmmmm... I wouldn't be surprised if he was only testing a prototype for his new company Stop'N'Drop.

    Who would have thought that "America's favorite suicide booth since 2008" was actually aussie?

    No, I didn't bring any coat... I don't need to cover my shiny metal @ss, thanks

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't get it...

    Why not just hold the pistol up to your head and pull the trigger, if you're so eager to leave? How could you even ensure that the thing would aim properly and do the job, instead of just maiming you or wounding you?

    This doesn't make a whole lot of sense. How come there isn't a big question mark icon for those of use who are confused?

  61. Jon Tocker


    More than adequate for despatching some[thing|one].

    Even when fired from a pistol with a lower muzzle velocity than from the typical .22 rifle.

    I've personally despatched a number of animals quickly and humanely at a variety of distances with a .22 rifle and if someone pointed a .22 rifle or pistol at me I would certainly consider my life was in danger.

    Lots of people have died believing the myth that "it's ONLY a .22"


    "...set the controls to /up yours, Asimov/" Definitely one of the best lines I've read lately.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >Apart from pistols, Oz has absolutely draconian gun laws.

    Actually pistols are even more heavily controlled than rifles in au.

    Your average citizen has two options for licensing a firearm, open and club. An open license lets you carry it with you as long as you have a legitimate reason ("going to the club after work" or "visiting a mate with a property" would be ok), a club license lets you carry it between home, a gunsmith and a licensed club, that's it. Pistols are only allowed on a club license.

    As a side note, I think "draconian" is a bit harsh. I have two rifles and while I had to jump through a couple of hoops to get them it wasn't a massive hassle for someone who has a legitimate need. Contrary to some peoples' claims it does help keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Our house was broken into last year, I grabbed my maglite and went to see what was going on. I never even considered the possibility that they would be armed with anything more than a knife, certainly there are crims with guns, but the junkies going around stealing dvd players don't have them.

    (Yes, I am aware that my "side note" is longer than my actual reply)

  63. Anonymous Coward


    If they were building a house next door, I'm suprised they could hear the shots over their own nail guns and explosive tools.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What you have written is correct but it only supports the original statement, laws are draconian other than for pistols. ie you can have a rifle for the back yard or someone elses back yard (draconian), pistols are club only (not draconian). I think draconian applies perfectly ie its not a massive hassle for someone who can state a legitimate need. therefore its easy, and the law is almost pointless, hence draconian.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > you can have a rifle for the back yard or someone elses back yard (draconian), pistols are club only (not draconian)

    Definitions of draconian on the Web:

    * (drah COE nee-un) adj, 1. Designating a law or code of extreme severity. 2. Harsh, rigorous.

    I would have said that strictly limiting who could buy something and telling them exactly where you are allowed to carry it (pistol) was more severe and rigorous than just saying "OK but prove you need it first and you will have to wait a few weeks" (rifle)

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: AC

    "I think draconian applies perfectly"

    I believe the previous AC is a member of a law enforcement body and has their agenda in mind.

    "Except for pistols" - In the UK, standard pistols are PROHIBITED entirely. Oz is much more reasonable about them.

    I have seen OZ statistics showing a recent boom in private gun ownership. Violent gun crime has remained level for decades.

    The only possible change is that there has not been another Port Moresby. Incidentally Port Moresby involved ILLEGAL weapon possession.

    I am British and bow to any Aussie's better knowledge though.

  67. Bruce Sinton

    Suicide Machines

    Jerry remembers a machine from 25-30 years ago. Might be the one I saw at the Medical School at Auckland University , 30 years ago.

    Constructed and used by an bloke who worked there, and used a .22 cal. rifle.

    It was thought he must have taken several weeks to make it. Quite a good design, with a timer , and after taking some drugs to make him go bye-bye, he locked himself in to/ on to the device and the rest is history.

    Opinion was that he wanted to be remembered, perhaps the same applies to this Australian chap.

    Sad thought that suicide is a matter for hilarity among supposed adults.

    PS. Jerry - Re Richard Pierce and the Wright Bros. Richard's plane had no means of control , the Wright machine had wing warping, and Richard's bouncing across a paddock and into a hedge was not controlled , sustained flight.

    The Yanks did do it first.

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