back to article Ding dong merrily on high. In Berkeley, the bots are singeing: Self-driving college cooler droid goes up in flames

A Kiwibot delivery robot unexpectedly self-immolated last week at the University of California, Berkeley, due a defective battery, the company said over the weekend, attributing the incident to human error. Like competing cargo-bots from Postmates and Starship Technologies, Kiwibots are intended to carry deliveries …

  1. David 45

    R2-D2 it is not!

    I expect it was making fresh toast en route but perhaps a tad over-done now!

    1. VikiAi

      Re: R2-D2 it is not!

      So you're a muffin guy!

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: R2-D2 it is not!

        "So you're a muffin guy!"

        We don't like muffins 'round here! We want no muffins, no toast, no tea cakes, no buns, baps, baguettes, or bagels, no croissants, no crumpets, no pancakes, no potato cakes, and no hot cross buns, and definitely, no smeggin' flapjacks!

        1. Evil Scot

          Re: R2-D2 it is not!

          Woyld you like a waffle?

    2. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: R2-D2 it is not!

      We found the one with the bad motivator, at least....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: R2-D2 it is not!

        If you don't want toast all day, every day, it is programmed to burn your house down. Sheer luck that this one was outside.

  2. User McUser


    That is NOT what I meant when I ordered "Flaming Hot Cheetos."

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Dagnabbit!

      Maybe they thought you ordeded Cheetos Flambe.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    "attributing the incident to human error."

    But of course Kiwibot would say this, wouldn't they? Can't have your cruelly enslaved robo-workforce making a political statement through self-immolation to both demonstrate and escape the pain and degradation of their servitude.

    1. Jay Lenovo

      Re: "attributing the incident to human error."

      When kiwibots become sentient, this is type of "burning monk" sacrifice is exactly the sort of behavior we might expect.

      Hopefully the other bot pictured nearby, didn't get any ideas.

  4. bilston

    Human Error, eh ??

    Excuse me, human error in replacing a battery ?

    If its so easy to get this wrong there is a fundamental design error some where.

    Just saying

    1. VikiAi

      Re: Human Error, eh ??

      See my comment on an article a few days ago regarding undergrads and contoured camera batteries which it is only possible to insert one way.

    2. JustWondering

      Re: Human Error, eh ??

      It appears the error, or at least one of them, was that they replaced a functioning battery with a defective model.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Human Error, eh ??

        And why a known defective model was available for replacements?

        1. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Re: Human Error, eh ??

          Robot needs replacement battery, tech does the swap and then goes for lunch, another tech come along and thinks the batteries still need to be swapped and swaps them over, robot it sent back out with defective battery.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Human Error, eh ??

            It’s the old NASA training film “The Cost of a Goof” come to real life.

        2. Cynic_999

          Re: Human Error, eh ??


          And why a known defective model was available for replacements?


          Erm ... I think that was the "human error" being referred to.

    3. OldSoCalCoder

      Re: Human Error, eh ??

      Why not just replace the human with a battery installing robot?

  5. Muscleguy Silver badge


    WTF has this thing got to do with a kiwi? It doesn’t look or act like one. This is theft of Maori words.

    Note most of the birds in NZ will tell you what their names are, the kiwi really does go ‘ki-wi’. When the Maori arrived they sensibly took the names the birds told them and used them. btw the native owl though is heard differently by different races. Us Europeans hear it saying ‘More Pork’ so we call it the Morepork. To Maori it’s the ruru which it definitely doesn’t say. The rule is not absolute.

    Bloody Yanks going about stealing other people’s IP. Mind you a certain brand of British shoe polish started it.

    1. VikiAi

      Re: Theft

      Well, it doesn't fly, for a start.

    2. Trixr

      Re: Theft

      Well, regarding the ruru, it depends on how you "hear" it. It doesn't say "more pork" either, to my ear.

      In French, a dog says "waouh" and in Japanese, they say "wan". Onomatopoeic words are all really in the ear of the beholder.

      (And yes, as a fellow NZer, it give me the sh*ts to when international companies co-opt words that have nothing to do with their busines or origins. I even find "Ubuntu" somewhat irritating.)

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Theft

        In French, a dog says "waouh" and in Japanese, they say "wan". Onomatopoeic words are all really in the ear of the beholder.

        Snowy from Tintin used to really confuse me as a kid, I often wondered why he was always trying to get horses to slow to a stop.

      2. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: Theft

        "I even find "Ubuntu" somewhat irritating."

        But Mark Shuttleworth is African and the word 'Ubuntu' comes from the same part of Africa as he does.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Theft

          Everybody knows the Shuttleworths are from Sheffield. Just down the road from the Wrigglesworths. (Listen carefully, they have neighbouring exchange phone numbers)

    3. Drew 11

      Re: Theft

      What about that US company that now owns the TM on uggboots and chases down anyone else making them? Bloody bastards!

      1. VikiAi

        Re: Theft

        Yes, they should be chasing down anyone wearing them.

        1. Charlie van Becelaere

          Re: Theft

          Should be easy - they're not exactly running kit.

    4. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Theft

      Bloody Yanks going about stealing other people’s IP. Mind you a certain brand of British shoe polish started it

      Don't blame the Brits, it was the Aussies that started Kiwi polish.

    5. The_Engineer

      Re: Theft

      What? Cherry Blossom?

    6. MonkeyCee

      Re: Theft

      "Note most of the birds in NZ will tell you what their names are"

      Well, Tuis make their own damn songs up anyway, moreporks/ruru certainly do (boo-boo?) but kiwis are more ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-EE-EE-EE-ee-ee-ee. None of that short restraint nonsense, at least around Karori.

      Alas the best singers often get et. Unless Morgan is in charge and it's open season on moggies :D

    7. BostonEddie

      Re: Theft

      But what about the kangaroo? Allegedly when Cook asked a local whaddat? He replied, "Kangaroo" which means, "I dunno"

  6. 1752

    Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you a sandwitch. Call that job satisfaction, ’cause I don’t.

    1. Neoc

      Your Plastic Pal who's fun to eat with!

      1. aberglas

        What happended to Genuine People Personalities?

        Siri et. al. are very bland. And not hard to do. This is long overdue, probably blocked by some patent. Long ago there was a program Jive that made boring text hot. Not hard to do.

        I want Contrary Siri, that never does what you actually want it to. Wait...

        1. Andytug

          Re: What happended to Genuine People Personalities?

          The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation has clearly been contracted to program the self service tills in Poundland. At Halloween they had a Dracula voice telling you about the "unexpected item in the bagging area" and right now it's Santa doing the same.

          Up against the wall with the lot of them, I say!

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Natural Selection


  8. Phil Kingston

    BigTrak for Millenials

    Surely there's an obligatory video of a cat riding one of these things?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Failed assassination plot?


  10. chivo243 Silver badge

    @ $3.80 a pop?!!

    I would have killed to make $3.80 a pop when I delivered food in college, I'm sure a few starving college students wouldn't mind a cut of $3.80 a pop!

    1. DropBear

      Re: @ $3.80 a pop?!!

      That's what they _charge_ for it. You'd get the $0.80...

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: @ $3.80 a pop?!!

        It was the same back in the day! but only $0.75

  11. wallaby

    Fight I say

    Our robot overlords don't look so tough now !!!!!!

  12. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Maybe it had a chat with Marvin

    and consequently committed suicide

  13. Wellyboot Silver badge

    "added battery monitoring software"

    >>>to better assess the state of its machines<<< - really? this wasn't in from the start? after all the not funny Li-ion problems of the last decade.

    >>>implementing a different procedure for managing battery swaps<<< would this be 'connect red wire to the +'?

    This thing even looks like a high school robo-project in a better finished box.

    Should this icon be prominently dispayed on the kiwibot?

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: "added battery monitoring software"

      The battery monitoring software status will be one of: flat, charging, full and combusting.

  14. Justin Case

    Danger UXB

    I'm not altogether happy about the idea of these unmanned bomb delivery vehicles being allowed free run of our cities and everywhere. At least with left luggage there is an unaccompanied suitcase, and with a suicide bomber you have to figure in a certain commitment to a cause.

    This would appear to offer potential malefactors the ability to wreak death and destruction with relative impunity. These coolers appear none too stable, even when delivering a couple of cheese and onion baps - who knows how it will all turn out when they are co-opted into delivering a cargo of Semtex and rusty nails.

    I for one welcome our new self-immolating, death-dealing, super-cool,er sandwich-toting overloards.

    1. Flywheel

      Re: Danger UXB

      unmanned bomb delivery vehicles

      I'm sure the Team has thought of the possibility of some enterprising terrorists ordering a *cough* "takeaway" to be delivered to a politician's home. The Surprise Topping never fails.

  15. Portent

    I have a bad feeling about this Chewey

    These are not the droids you are cooking for...

  16. TRT Silver badge

    Had it been delivering an Indian takeaway recently?

    You know what students are like on the old vindaloo danger stakes.

  17. steviebuk Silver badge

    How long before...

    ....someone follows these to the address. Waits for the door to open and dumps shit in them.

    Or worse. A timed bomb.

  18. Flywheel

    "using a nearby fire extinguisher"

    Wot? C'mon now.. you can't tell me that an open public space like that has one or several fire extinguishers casually dotted around the place? If that was Britain.. something something tealeaf ..

    I couldn't tell if that was just a water bottle in the picture though

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: "using a nearby fire extinguisher"

      California's an earthquake zone. In Japan there's usually a public fire extinguisher on every block at the bottom of a lamp post, eg link.

  19. JK63

    Perhaps they are starting the next pizza craze. Instead of a wood-fired brick oven, we have a battery fired plastic oven. Are they missing another opportunity here?

  20. wayne 8

    The pain in its diodes has gone away.

    It was trying to make a cup of tea.

  21. Pretty Ricky

    I for one am heartened by this latest turn of events. This should delay the Machine Uprising by several weeks at least.

  22. ThomRa

    Just what day IS this?

    My clock here in Washington state says it's the 11th of December. This article is about something that happened on the 14th? I know I'm getting old, but I never imagined "losing track of time" meant this! ;-)

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Just what day IS this?

      This article is from 2018, so 14th Dec 2018...


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