back to article ROBOT COP scatters LIVE GRENADES in San Francisco STREET

In an apparent instance of mindless mechanical nihilism, a police robot in San Francisco scattered live grenades across a street using its mechanical arm. When the deadly frag-bombs failed to explode, the enraged tin cop apparently attempted to detonate them by running them over. We'll let this vid from local news channel KTVU …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    More like a ROV I think. A robot is autonomous by definition I think.

    It always used to irritate me that the BBC's 'ROV Wars' was sadly misnamed ...

    A most amusing article though ... !

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots of this type are remotely controlled by humans

    So that's why we haven't got an ROTM tag.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Mobilephone ad

    slow my browser on my really quite expensive workstation.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that you Murphy?

    Dead or alive you're coming with me!

  5. Robert E A Harvey

    this is not a title


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Fall of the Machines.

  6. Smallbrainfield

    "Grandads Grenades"

    Sounds like a euphemism for something terrible.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A better way to move grenades

    Pick them up with your hands.

    For some reason, soldiers seem to do it all the time.

    1. Michael C


      grenades, as with most older munitions, become volatile with significant age. A modern grenade, sure. Once made in the 40s? simply touching it could make it go boom... (or, the opposite, it may never explode). Without being able to easily identify the exact make and age of the grenade, it's much simpler just not to put people it it's way.

      1. Anton Ivanov


        TNT, nitrocellulose, etc all become unpredictable with age. As the joke goes they can explode merely because you "thought about it".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "simply touching it could make it go boom"

        but running it over, that's just standard practice...

    2. Jeremy 2


      60 seconds to look them over, pick 'em up, put them in a storage thingy and take them away versus an hour and a half playing with the world's most expensive remote control car. Which would you choose?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        I for one ...

        ... would choose the expensive rc car. Gizmos FTW!

    3. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      You go first.

  8. kain preacher

    Just one thing

    In America if the the police dept have this robot they will use is instead of person. Unless its safer to have a human defuse the device .

  9. Cameron Colley

    I don't get it?

    I thought that grenades were designed to be safe to throw around (well, perhaps gingerly) until the pin was removed? SO, surely, in this case all they had to do was cart them away?

    OK, so I don't know what I'm talking about and I realise very old explosives are unpredictable but it still seems a weird thing to do to "send in the robot" when obviously these grenades had been moved by people recently without going off. In fact, had the pins been loose one of those grenades could quite easily have been set off by the "robot" couldn't it? Whereas a person could check and say "oh shit the pin is loose".

    What am I missing experts?

    1. Elmer Phud

      It's in the name?

      Robot on the loose? Grenades everywhere? Drama in the streets? People under threat?

      Call for ---

      "Lieutenant Troy Dangerfield"

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: I don't get it?

      "....What am I missing...." These "robots" usually have a remote vid camera to allow the operator to examine the device from a safe distance. The operator can then decide if he wants to get out of his van and walk over to the device, or be lazy and use his robot to juggle them remotely, as this one seems to have. There's also the factor of ego - "look at my metal toy, I'm the really important robot operator, it follows my every command, see how good it is at holding them grenades..."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nor do I?

      Yeah, i'd like to know as well. I mean, surely it's easier to just get out the level IV armour, walk in, pick them up and carefully put them in a container rated to stand the explosion of a modern grenade while they are taken to somewhere suited to blowing em up?

      Playing pinball with grenades with the robot just seems more dangerous than getting a meatbag to do the job.

  10. DaveLeeTravis

    There was always something fishy about him...

    ...but who knew Lewis was a robot!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember this is in the US

    "Under British rules, a job dealing with apparently unmodified grenades would count as Conventional Munitions Disposal (CMD) rather than the generally riskier and more uncertain Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD), and an operator would be unlikely to use a robot."

    Yes but this is the USA ... I lived in SF Bay Area for a time 10 years ago and while I was there I remember with great amusement the day there was an accident on the entrace to the Bay Bridge in SF involving a lorry carrying a PortaLoo which clearly had been used as it tipped over spilling its contents over the road (a cue for a long list of euphemisms from the radio traffic reporter since shit is a banned word on US airwaves) and as a result a full "hazadous materials" procedure was called for.

    Similarily on another occasion a lorry containing empty wine bottles had a crash in the Napa valley which took a couple of hours to clear - when it was the newsreporter talking to local traffic cop joked that it was lucky the bottles weren't full as it would have been a waste - only for the cop to say that it was lucky as in that case it would have been a HazMat incident and it would have taken most of the day for people in hazmat suits to clear!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I blame unions.

      California according to Gary North:

      1. A gigantic debt

      2. A gigantic annual deficit

      3. A declining school system

      4. High unemployment

      5. A rotten business climate (48th worst)

      Now add:

      6. Sheer bloody-mindedness in nonzero-risk situations

    2. Oninoshiko

      In fairness

      that's about what I think of california wine too!

    3. LateNightLarry

      Remember this is in the US

      I read a couple of days ago where the US EPA is proposing to label spilled milk as hazardous material and require full HazMat containment and clothing when handling spilled milk... The reason? Milk contains animal fats... which contain a type of OIL... and OIL is a hazardous material.

      I have yet to see a MILK well blowout, either on land or in the Gulf of Mexico. Matter of fact, I've never seen milk spills that couldn't be contained with a couple of shovels full of dirt.

      Time to dismantle the EPA and get those "scientists" in the EPA a real job, cleaning up OIL spills.

      Fail, because the US EPA is hazardous to the health of the country.

  12. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    "Pretty interesting to see it unfold" says the presenter just as the package unfolds and the grenades fall out...

    The operator must have been one cool number (or just plain stupid) - he would have looked like a proverbial sieve had any of those bombs gone off...

  13. Andy E

    Scattered live grenades ?

    The grenade fell out of the paper bag. Probably not something the operator was expecting to happen. Moving the robot before locating the grenade was not a good idea. I wonder if the operator was a newbie?

    To put things straight:

    1, The grenade was not scattered across the street using it's mechanical arm, it fell out of a paper bag.

    2, The robot is being operated by a human and is not capable of being enraged.

    3, The robot ran over the grenade because the operator did not know where the grenade was and was stupid enough to move it, not because it was trying to detonate it.

    I think you should get a job with the Sun newspaper. They always seem to have space for a big tit.

    1. Baskitcaise

      a big tit'le

      Day: Friday

      Section: Bootnotes

      You must be new here.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      nothing unusual

      At least 80% of cops are mentally defective, so this idiot is right in there with the average level of incompetence.

      They use the ROV because they have it and it looks 'cool', not because it is necessary. The idiot quotient at work.

    3. Oninoshiko

      New here?

      We like to call that "tougne-in-cheek," it's generally the case with elReg's reporting style. Everyone who has read elReg for any length of time should be familure with it by now.

      grenade, obvious reasons.

    4. Sean Baggaley 1

      Perhaps you should watch the video again...

      ... this time with your eyes open.

      Look closely. As the ROV starts its move back to the van with the paper bag, at around the 2:38 mark on the video, you can just see the bottom of the bag bursting open and *multiple* grenades fall out. Given the location of the camera on the ROV, it's unlike the operator would have seen it. We can't see the position of the smaller ROV, so it's possible that had been left looking at the original location of the bag.

      The reporters commentating on the action only see a final grenade fall out of the bag—you can clearly see this at the 2:57 mark. In fact, it's clear that, until the robot goes back for the second grenade, the reporters weren't even aware that more than one had fallen out. They certainly didn't spot the other grenades falling out of the bag, even though there were (a) two of them, and (b) they were watching the same footage I was.

      Cut the ROV operator some slack, people. To err is human. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    5. Ian Michael Gumby
      Dead Vulture

      Lewis probably wrote this while down in the pub...

      Yeah, the grenade fell out of the bag and the operator didn't see it happen.

      C'mon Lewis, I was hoping for the start of the mech men jihad!

    6. Sub Wrath

      skynet averted then

      shame, was looking forward to being eaten by the toaster.

    7. Goat Jam

      @Andy E

      You must be a hoot at parties!

  14. frank ly

    Nice to see them at work/play

    When its little friend came over to join in the fun, I was hoping that they'd both start playing catch with the grenade.

  15. Cosmo

    Three... Two... One...

    Bad Robot!

    1. Graham Marsden

      I think you ought to know...

      ... I'm feeling very depressed...

      1. Richard Brown


        .... a brain the size of a planet ....

        You are showing your age, as am I.

  16. LesC

    Should have used Pod 1

    With a name like Lieutenant Troy Dangerfield he should be working for International Rescue and not the LAPD.

    Mines is the one with the Kevlar in the pocket.

  17. Chris Miller


    Top man, Mr Page!

  18. PsychicMonkey


    Troy Dangerfield? is his partner Max Power?

  19. beboyle

    Lewis Page was an armed forces EOD operator...

    Which explains how he's able to brave this lot every day. But it also seems to me he'd be the most qualified to handle the FoTW. Maybe overqualified?

    1. Gilbert Wham


      Yeah, but who wants to deal with the backlash from Andrew's wildly inflammatory articles?

      1. Goat Jam


        Well, Andrew certainly doesn't!

  20. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @I don't get it

    >I thought that grenades were designed to be safe to throw around until the pin was removed

    Yes, assuming they haven't been stored somewhere warm and damp for 50years for the explosive or detonator to become unstable. And weren't made in a hurry in a WWII factory with 'emergency measures' quality control. And you know that nobody had a fiddle around with them in the preceding 50years.

    Old explosives are like legacy server apps - walk past them very carefully and don't breath on them in case they go off!

    1. Kevin Reader
      Paris Hilton

      erm - damp + paper bag!

      While I tend to agree in principal, the reasoning about "stored somewhere warm and damp for 50 years" would really need taking into account about the PAPER BAG that they were found in! And which presumably the family had examined before calling the police...

      Paris - cos she knows what to do with damp wrappings, etc, etc....

  21. Anonymous Coward

    The I.T. Crowd :o)

    # Moss: "I think this might be a bomb disposal robot, Roy..."

    # Bomb disposal guy: "I'm having a couple of problems with it."

    # Moss: "What system does it use?"

    # Bomb disposal guy: "Vista."

    # Moss: "We're all going to die."

  22. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    le Tit

    Any relation to Tony Dangerfield I wonder (1960s singer for those wot don't no)

  23. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    GOTCHA, Lewis!

    Ha! Clearly the bot was defective (and possibly overexpensive) Should've used an european model instead!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Could this be Mr. Page at work?

  25. BongoJoe

    I remember

    my father, a rather-successful* WW2 bomb disposal chap, telling me that one of the advantages of being in bomb disposal was that one didn't have an officer breathing down your neck as one worked...

    (* you can perhaps guess why)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Halo

      (* you can perhaps guess why)

      can you give us a clue?

  26. Turgut Kalfaoglu

    Sad state of police

    So they couldnt just pick up a hand grenade that has been sitting around for years and dispose of it? They had to use thousands of dollars worth of toys to do so? Geez.. Such brave police farce, oops, force..

  27. Brian Miller

    Paper bag + grenades = oops

    Two grenades in a ratty paper bag, and an operator who can only see the top of the bag. Of course both fall out of the bag.

    These were "pineapple" MK2 grenades. I wonder if these were actually old training grenades, which were commonly available as a surplus item.

  28. Remy Redert

    @Anton Ivanov

    While some types of explosives (dynamite!) can become more sensitive with age, I think you'll find the most likely compositions for old grenades (TNT, various RDX mixes) just become inert, regardless of how badly they might be stored.

    A 50 year old hand grenade is every bit as unlikely to go off unintentionally as a brand new one, the only difference is the chance of a dud or hang fire being significantly larger for the 50 year old grenade. Absolutely no need for the robot here, all they did was close down 'one of LA's busiest streets' for an unnecessarily long period of time.

    ps: Actually, some of those mixes go from explosive to flammable, not inert, but that's close enough wrt to handling.

    1. Dave Bell


      There are three main possibiliities.

      1: Inert training grenade, which might be identifiable by the paint scheme.

      2: Un-fused grenade, the way in which they were normally shipped, with no fuse.

      3: Fused, and so likely to be very dangerous with age.

      The trouble is that it may not be easy to tell whether the thing is fused

      Carrying something like this in a paper bag seems a trifle reckless.

  29. El Cid Campeador

    We can breathe easier....

    Thank God... We'll have time to use our EMP guns while the Terminators are fumbling around for their weapons...

  30. heyrick Silver badge

    "Are you kidding me?"

    Didn't something fall out of the bag, tearing it slightly, before we all saw the grenade fall out? I wonder if there was another one...

    I watched it on YouTube, it suggested this: - purile, mindless, stupid, and childishly funny. ;-)

  31. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Blah blah blah!

    I love these sorts of TV news situations just an endless stream of consciousness from the commentators. They obviously have some brief from on-high at the stations to keep talking to ensure people don't tune out and go do something more worthwhile, but after 2 mins I had to turn off the audio!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Bastard Commentators....

    I am reminded of the lines by Death in "The Meaning of Life" by Monty Python: 7:Death

    GRIM REAPER: Be quiet!

    HOWARD: Can I just say this at this time, please?

    GRIM REAPER: Silence! I have come for you.

    ANGELA: You mean... to--

    GRIM REAPER: Take you away. That is my purpose. I am death.

    GEOFFREY: Well, that's cast rather a gloom over the evening, hasn't it?

    HOWARD: I don't see it that way, Geoff. [sniff] Let me tell you what I think we're dealing with here: a potentially positive learning experience to get an--

    GRIM REAPER: Shut up! Shut up, you American. You always talk, you Americans. You talk and you talk and say 'let me tell you something' and 'I just wanna say this'. Well, you're dead now, so shut up!

    HOWARD: Dead?

    GRIM REAPER: Dead.

    ANGELA: All of us?

    GRIM REAPER: All of you.

    GEOFFREY: Now, look here. You barge in here, quite uninvited, break glasses, and then announce, quite casually, that we're all dead. Well, I would remind you that you are a guest in this house, and-- [whock] Ah! Oh.

    GRIM REAPER: Be quiet! Englishmen, you're all so fucking pompous, and none of you have got any balls.

    And those fucking American commentators.... Why MUST they absolutely rabbit on and on and on and on and on and on and on - about every nuance or possible vague connection it may have to any other irrelevant fact or theory.

    "Well Jessica, apparently the black rubber things on the bottom are called wheels and the black bits are supposedly made from ballistic grade rubber, which is 20% harder than regular rubber tyres that are found on automobiles - which they say is the same rubber on the vehicles used in Iraq....."

    And they just fucking rabbit on and on and on and on and on and on....

    And it's not as if the stupid cops closing down a whole street to get out a paper bag with a few hand grenades in it - is actually newsworthy...

    Fuck these people are so STUPID......

    No wonder I rarely ever watch TV.

    No wonder the USA is going down the shithole - as being an idiot is held in higher regard than being intelligent and getting results.

  33. Kevin Reader

    Marvin - (cough)

    Even Marvin (the paranoid android) would have been more prepared than these guys....

    "Like a stone through a wet paper bag."

    Two thoughts on the coverage though:

    1. The camera shake, for example, as the grenade is driven over is understandable, but at other points the camera moves like it is also under remote control (ie. zoom cycling). It would be interesting to know how they filmed it.

    2. This coverage really shows why station idents, and screen banners are a huge waste of space, and that they ought to warn the cameramen about not relying on those parts of the screen!!! Very annoying on this coverage.

  34. Gilgamesh

    Worst episode of Robot Wars EVER

    also, a disappointing lack of explosions, gunfire and robots battling to the death

  35. TeeCee Gold badge


    Sack the juggler!

  36. Andy 36


    What a bunch of pussies. It seems if a proper assessment was done, the logical action would be to put them into a container for removal where they could have been detonated safely without closing a street and having 100 news channels all talking the same crap.

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