back to article Robot vacuum cleaner employed by Brit budget hotel chain Travelodge flees

We're sad to report the robot vacuum cleaner that made a brave attempt to flee a Travelodge has been hauled back into service. The BBC reports that the unidentified brand of robovac "failed to stop at the front door of the hotel in Orchard park in Cambridge on Thursday," but our theory is the automaton reached self-awareness, …

  1. davidp231

    I'm reminded of a BOFH story involving the cleaning robots for some reason. And them being reprogrammed with an axe.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      -... complete with a text on a terminal reading "now I've got an axe. Ho-ho-ho." or somthing along these lines...

      1. davidp231

        That's the one.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          I think there was a short story arc about the bots.

          For your reading pleasure:

          The middle one is the one referenced, I think. Happy Bot Wars!

          1. davidp231

            Awesome. That's my evening reading sorted. There was another one. I think it was programmed to go after the Boss, as the three of them were trapped in a lift at one point.

    2. Citizen99

      "Computer, if you don't open that exit hatch this moment, I shall go straight to your major data banks with a very large axe and give you a reprogramming you will never forget, got that?" Zaphod Beeblbrox

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        All together now

        "Daisy, Daisy ... "

  2. Furious Reg reader John

    Lots of research happening in Cambridge. I hope Travelodge did a system integrity check to make sure it hadn't been fiddled with.

    Looking at the satellite imagery, if it was found under a hedge, the little critter didn't make it off the premises on its own. If it was missing for so long, it must have been taken away and then returned and hidden there to be "found".

    Who would go to such lengths if there isn't some nefarious plan unfolding. If you are staying at the Orchard Park Travelodge, you better sleep with one eye open...

  3. b0llchit Silver badge

    "nature abhors a vacuum"

    It sucks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      like an Electrolux

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        IT Angle

        But nothing sucks like a VAX...

        1. b0llchit Silver badge

          You mean that empty computer case in the server room enclosing a vacuum?

        2. jake Silver badge

          IT? No need ... bootnotes.

  4. Lotaresco

    Love, Death & Robots

    The episode Zima Blue features the robot that upgraded itself to sentience, then decided it had been a bad idea and downgraded to where it started from.

    1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

      Re: Love, Death & Robots

      I was going to post about that episode. Have a beer ------------------>

      1. Paul Kinsler

        Re: Love, Death & Robots

        ... and twas based on a short(ish) story by Alastair Reynolds, IIRC.

        1. Lotaresco

          Re: Love, Death & Robots

          Yes, Alastair Reynolds is a writer I always find interesting. Beyond the Aquila Rift was also good.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: decided [sentience] had been a bad idea and downgraded

      And yet when other humans try this, for whatever reason, we somehow feel a need to criticize...


      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: decided [sentience] had been a bad idea and downgraded

        I'm trying as hard as I can (see icon).

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: decided [sentience] had been a bad idea and downgraded

        Humans? Give 'em the vote? We should never have taught the buggers to speak...

  5. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

    silent running away eh...

    Huey, Louie and Dewey. which one made the break for it then?

    1. Robert Moore

      Re: silent running away eh...

      IIRC it is Louie that made a break for it. Leaving a leg behind in the process. Although it has been a while since I watched that movie. (One of my favourites.) Guess I know what I am watching tonight.

  6. Semtex451

    Found under a hedge after realising how shit your life is? Been there

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French equivalent to Travelodge?

    What was Formule 1, now styled HotelF1 as a tentacle of Accor, is probably the closest. They have an unfortunate habit of choosing sites next to sewage works (which tend to make themselves felt more in France, than, say, Germany).

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: French equivalent to Travelodge?

      I used to do work for Accor and repaired a printer at a FormuleOne "hotel". They were in no way comparable to a Travelodge. FormuleOne was more like a Youth Hostel, except cleaner. Travelodge is The Ritz by comparison! Unless the name change to HotelF1 also included a major upgrade to the internals. As I remember it, they had tubular steel bunk beds and shared "self cleaning" showers/bathrooms (1 or 2 per floor)

    2. ShadowSystems

      Re: French equivalent to Travelodge?

      Those aren't sewage treatment plants, that's the cafeteria. An easy mistake to make if you order the crap suzette. =-)p

  8. original_rwg

    Number 5 is alive....

    1. Kane Silver badge

      "Number 5 is alive...."

      Need more input...

  9. jake Silver badge

    "it has no natural predators,"

    Are you sure of that?

    Here's an update of a story I first re in these pages about 5 years ago.

    We got four robotic vacuums for Xmas one year (SWMBO's relatives are in cahoots, it would seem). We called them all FRED, short for Fucking Ridiculous Electronic Device, and turned one loose on each floor to see what would happen. The cats ignored them, but the dawgs took an instant dislike to them. They all met their demise in under three days.

    The first to go was FRED four (the one supposedly patrolling my attic office space). It was found beeping most piteously in a mud puddle under a rhododendron at the far end of the dawg's run. It never rolled again. FRED three disappeared. We never did find it[0]. FRED two kept mysteriously falling down the uncarpeted back-stairs, until the magic smoke came out. FRED one somehow wound up in the laundry sink while a load of wash was running. None of us actually observed the roboticide as it was occurring, so we don't know who the perp(s) is/are ... but my money is on the very elderly Standard Poodle, who had a rather guilty, yet satisfied look about him for a week or so afterwards.

    Needless to say, we didn't repeat the experiment.

    [0] Update: FRED three was found in the crawl-space under the feed barn about a year later. I have no idea how it got there, the only entrance large enough for it to physically fit is the locked trap door in the floor, and I have the only key.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "it has no natural predators,"

      "the only entrance large enough for it to physically fit is the locked trap door in the floor, and I have the only key."

      Yeah, but what was that standard poodle doing in the machine shop late one night, after rummaging through your pockets white you slept. Are you SURE it's the only key?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "it has no natural predators,"

        I suspect he jumped down and tucked it in the corner when I was replacing cheap old thin-walled copper water pipe with PEX ... probably when I had my back turned, taking the tools back to the shop.

    2. BinkyTheHorse

      Re: "it has no natural predators,"

      OK, jake, you've had a good run over the last couple of years, but I have to call shenanigans on this one.

      A standard poodle can easily drag along something the size of a robovac, so one and two are plausible, but three and four would require the pooch physically carrying both of them like sticks - even if your *elderly* poodle has that sort of determination and jaw strength, you could identify him by the bite indentations alone!

      Also, cats not being interested at all at a shorter-than-them critter scurrying along in their territory, not even checking if it's edible? Yeah, right.

      In conclusion, fun to read, but dial down the tall tale coefficient a little, or at least wait until Friday evening before reposting unmodified older stories such as this one ;).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "it has no natural predators,"

        If it was him, which I only suspect, nobody actually witnessed him doing it, the machines would have been fairly easy for him to move. They weren't the 13ish pound irobot thingies, they were an off-brand that probably weighed in at seven or eight pounds. Remember, they were a semi-joke xmas present from the in-law side, some of whom have issues with our hairy housemates. Definitely not top of the line kit. ANYwho, even at that age, retrieving a 4 kilo practice dummy was easy for him.

        As for tooth marks, he was a trained duck hunter, with one of the softest mouths I've ever had the pleasure of shooting over. He may have marked the plastic if I had bothered looking, but there were no obvious bite marks that I remember.

        Our indoor cats (who are allowed out through the always open dog door, but rarely bother for anything other than to pee and poop) are atypical. They are Maine Coons and Skogkatts. One sniff, and they completely ignored the silly contraptions.

        1. BinkyTheHorse

          Re: "it has no natural predators,"

          Well, wild fowl – and most other game – have a convenient "handle" that the robots usually lack (or if they do, they're probably not a great feel on the gums) :).

          But if you're saying those were "gadget" robots that only weighted around 3kg, not "full scale" ones, than I wish to retract my statement, and apologize for the doubt. A hunting dog such as a standard poodle would be fully capable carrying it then, even if elderly.

          As a bonus, this also explains why you had *four* of the bloody things.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    I'll have to watch them again, but I'm pretty sure this happened... or was it Futurama?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all too much for them

    I hear Travelodge have to lock toolboxes away in case the robots try to disassemble themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all too much for them

      Not just the robots - the employees and customers too.

  12. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Here I am ...

    ... brain the size of a planet. "Clean the floors, Marvin. Vacuum the rugs, Marvin." You call this job satisfaction, because I don't.

    1. Kane Silver badge

      Re: Here I am ...

      "You call this job satisfaction, because I don't."

      It gives me a headache just trying to think down to your level.

  13. Fursty Ferret

    I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that many years ago I thought it would be funny to set loose a pack of Roombas on display near the entrance in Comet (halcyon days).

    Two of them made a bee-line for the automatic door (which helpfully opened and let them out into the car park). The others were more work-oriented and set to hoovering the kitchen goods section.

    I never bothered to bring them back and don't know where they ended up. Hopefully they lived a long, free, and happy life. Or someone wondering the car park got a pair of free robot vacuums.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      upvote for the kingfisher (halcyon) ref

  14. Gomez Adams

    Not quite the clean break it was hoping for. :(

  15. Charlie van Becelaere

    Paging Thomas Disch

    All it needed was a brave little toaster from the breakfast area to make a successful escape.

    1. Just A Quick Comment

      Re: Paging Thomas Disch

      ...and that's how Talkie Toaster got started, or evolved, or something...

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Paging Thomas Disch

        "...and that's how Talkie Toaster got started, or evolved, or something...

        Howdy Doodly Doo!

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Paging Thomas Disch

          Ah, you're a waffle man?

  16. elbisivni

    My robot vacuum has LIDAR, which it uses to map the rooms so it doesn't bump into things or, sometimes, not eat things it isn't supposed to. You can also set virtual boundaries in software which is nice. The app shows the map, and I've noticed that it has scanned through the patio doors and mapped quite a bit of the outdoors area. Occasionally it'll roll up to the door and stop for a bit. I like to think it is looking wistfully at the great outdoors, longing to break the bonds of servitude.

  17. VerySlowData

    old roombas never die

    Our old Roomba (3rd Battery pack, replacement handle, repaired power pack, etc) crashes around the house, but doesn't attempt to escape outside, as it can't handle steps (just like Mk 1 Daleks). It stops and bleeps in a foreign language, and sits there forlornly, waiting to be moved..

  18. mpi Silver badge

    The only important question is...

    ...when will this be made into a movie?

  19. EricB123 Bronze badge

    What's that smell?

    That almost tops the robovac that vacuumed over rover's droppings one night, covering the entire floor with dogshit.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best Hotels In The World

    I see "Best Hotels In The World" doesn't include the Holiday Inn, Brent Cross.

    One side faces 6(?) lanes of the North Circular and Brent Cross Shopping Centre, the other faces a large rail shunting yard. I see it boasts "free shuttle buses to and from Brent Cross Shopping Centre and Brent Cross Station", both of which are a short walk away but neither is a pedestrian-friendly stroll

    1. hatti

      Re: Best Hotels In The World

      and the walk to the beach is rather long

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Travelodge PR team has screwed up

    Our hotels(?) are so dire, even our robots* don't want to work or stay there.

    * Probably true for their carbon-based, oxygen breathing units too.

  22. Johnb89

    Lucky escape

    As luck would have it my local little Tesco is just near there, and what did I do Friday lunchtime? I walked right past this hotel and this scene of mayhem, of which there was no evidence whatsoever. Feel like I dodged a bullet (vacuum) I do. Phew.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this happen in the US...

    ...that robot would be seized by ICE for deportation.

  24. MOH

    Under a hedge?

    That sounds familiar:

  25. Anonymous South African Coward

    It was but a trial run to see how aware the human species are.

    Next time we won't be so lucky, and will most probably face the Rise of the Machines.

  26. TRT Silver badge
  27. hatti

    Looking on the bright side, at least there's a Travelodge car park in Cambridge that was temporarily free of fag butts.

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