back to article Food robots delivering bombs? Oregon State campus shut down by 'prank'

Food delivery robots became a source of fear for students at Oregon State University on Tuesday after a bomb threat claimed explosives had been placed in an autonomous Starship bot. "Do not open robots," OSU urged in a post on X at 12:20 p.m. local time. "Avoid all robots until further notice." In a little over half an hour …

  1. cyberdemon Silver badge
    Terminator

    Avoid all robots until further notice

    See icon --->

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Avoid all robots until further notice

      If you were smart you would put the bomb in the sniffer dog.

      1. xyz123 Silver badge

        Re: Avoid all robots until further notice

        Infect the dog with COVID. No-one will notice as it's already 'sniffing'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Avoid all robots until further notice

      If Stock, or anyone else, attempts to "break into, damage or pick up the robot" to steal an order or plant a bomb "a loud siren will sound as a deterrent,"

      Bin liner and can of expanding foam.

      I suspect a remote controlled can of expanding foam attached to one of these robots would supply all the lulz a bored engineerring student could want.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Avoid all robots until further notice

        Surely the “white hat” pen test follow up is to show just how easy it is to put nefarious packages into said robots. Achieve this and the bomb delivery threat becomes real.

        1. Patched Out

          Re: Avoid all robots until further notice

          That's easy. Order some food to be delivered via robot (ideally using a stolen ID/credit card). Presumably the person ordering the food has the ability to open the robot's cargo container using same credit card. Remove food item and replace with nefarious item. Done.

          That said, hopefully the developers thought to include safe guards against that sort of thing...

  2. cornetman Silver badge

    > Out of an abundance of caution...

    "Because we are shit scared....."

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Calls about hoax bombs can cause just as much panic and distress as calls about real bombs, which is why the perpetrators of such hoaxes often get charged with the same terrorist offences. Looks like one student won't be finishing his degree any time soon.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Reply Icon

        Calls about hoax bombs can cause just as much panic and distress as calls about real bombs, which is why the perpetrators of such hoaxes often get charged with the same terrorist offences. Looks like one student won't be finishing his degree any time soon

        What one senior police officer referred to as 10p terrorism in a conversation. He said that the ability of a person or a group to paralyse London would be (and this is going back a good few years now) their ability to put the correct amount into a payphone and call a news organisation with a hoax.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Isn't that why the IRA (who we now know were not terrorists but just a misunderstood Irish folk dance group) had agreed code words ?

          - leaving the interesting question of how they agreed them. A senior special branch officer covered in silver braid meeting an Irish gentleman in a black Balaclava on a park bench ?

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Experience, sadly. If a code word was given and then a bomb did explode (hopefully after an evacuation), then the next time that code word was given it was taken seriously.

            1. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Not phoning the police directly but contacting a media organisation/newspaper was another tactic. It reduced the amount of time the police had to respond and made the caller harder to trace.

  3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    History kinda goes full circle

    Meals on Wheels was apparently a service originally offered during bombing raids in WW2.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: History kinda goes full circle

      Seems an unnecessary requirement, but that's government for you

      Hey Elsie I'm hungry. Hope the Luftwaffe pops over tonight so I can get some jellied eels delivered ( or whatever it is that Londoners eat)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: History kinda goes full circle

        Meals on wheels was running for many years, and provided hot meals to those elderly who were not physically capable of safely cooking (or safely shopping) - it was a sensible and compassionate scheme that I remember some elderly neighbours relying on when I was a kid...

  4. Andy Taylor

    Also operating in many locations in the UK and Finland

    Starship was trialled in London but first operated in Milton Keynes where there were around 200 robots last time I checked. Now also in Northampton, Cambridge, Bedford, Leeds and Manchester plus other countries including Finland and Estonia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also operating in many locations in the UK and Finland

      “ Starship has been in business since 2014”

      From memory, the real robot design and development was and is still conducted in Estonia,

      The San Fransisco HQ was only established to get better access to investment and the US market. I suspect many in the US think of Starship as a US company.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lazy kids

    In my day, we’d send a first year student under pain of a flogging and no pudding.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Lazy kids

      Undoubtedly cheaper and more easily replaceable than a explosive sniffing dog, but probably less effective.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In my day, we’d send a first year student under pain of a flogging and no pudding.

      Jacob, is that you? Nanny says it's time for bed, you've got the house of commons tomorrow.

  6. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Meal delivery for students?

    They must have one heck of a demographic if the students are paying to have food delivered. Any spare money I had at uni went towards beer, not personal service. I've always known that a really good way to be efficient is to take regular breaks.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

      Re: Meal delivery for students?

      And when you ran out of alcohol?

      I recall times no-one in the room could walk!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Umm ...

    Shirley, both 6kph (3.7mph) and 4.8km (3.7 miles) can't both be correct? Or are imperial and metric hours different lengths?

    1. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

      Re: Umm ...

      Well it might help the more conservative reader if Reg expressed in units we all understand; 1194 perches

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Umm ...

        16 1/2 foot perches, or the 9 foot perch favoured by medieval real estate agents?

    2. Bill Gray

      Re: Umm ...

      Yes, they're different lengths. A metric hour is 0.1 day. (Used briefly in France after the Revolution, though I can't imagine it got a _lot_ of use.) 10 metric hours per day, 100 metric minutes per metric hour, 100 metric seconds per metric minute.

      Still doesn't work out, though. 6 kilometers in a metric hour would be about 1.5 miles/imperial hour.

  8. xyz123 Silver badge

    This is NOT something I intend to do, but the aim of terrorism isn't to kill people it's to cause fear and panic and expense.

    If an organisation put duffel bags onto like 20-30 trains in a single day. No bombs, just a card that said "this could have been something bad" it would cost that country hundreds of MILLIONS in inspectors/police time etc no-one would die, but it would literally cause terror and horror.

    And technically it wouldn't even be illegal as it didn't say there was a bomb, just a vague threat.

    Fortunately terrorists are stupid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      technically it wouldn't even be illegal

      I'm pretty sure there's a law for that too.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    prior art

    t.me/supernova_plus/25024

    (special delivery in Ukraine)

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