Friday, January 4, 2008

Vacubot Goes Haywire Due to Easter Egg, Terrorizes Family – Kansas City, KA, April 13 2009

An automated vacuum cleaner that is widely known for its amazing ability to work around the house non-stop without bothering people went berserk last night in Kansas City leaving a family of four injured and their cat dead. Broken ankles, shattered toes, bruised shins, stitches, a concussion and the family's long-time feline companion buried in the yard were the result of a programmer's joke gone sour. The vacubot's software had been humorously shipped with an 'Easter Egg', a piece of software code that unlocked its speed limiting system and reversed the HIBS (Human Injury Blockage System) feature when being forced to go back and forth over 20 times on any Easter Day. The father of the family described how his son was playing with the automated contraption on Easter Day and kept jumping in front of it while the robot was trying to get to a piece of fuzz. 'All of a sudden the wheels started spinning like crazy and rammed with full speed into my son, who broke a couple of foot bones instantly. I tried to stop the robot, but I couldn't hold on long enough to turn the switch off. It slipped through my fingers and it rammed my foot and shin. I grabbed my son and jumped on the couch where we were safe. My wife and daughter walked in from the backyard and were both rammed. My daughter fell over and was smacked in the head by the wretched thing. My wife pulled her up quickly and they climbed up on the kitchen table. We decided to wait until the batteries would run out. After two hours our cat walked in and we tried to scare her out of the house, to no avail. She got hit by the robot at full speed and was knocked unconscious immediately. There was nothing we could do. It kept ramming into Tiger until it ran out of power.' Jackson Campbell, a spokesperson for UltraSuck, the manufacturer, responded with pointing out that it was a tragic incident and that the family will be compensated for their grief, discomfort and medical expenses. He said they traced the malicious piece of software back to one programmer who they suspect put in the code. Answering the question why the Vacubot could develop the high speed that was the cause of the seriousness of the damage, while in normal mode only going at 2 mph, the spokesperson answered that the motors in these bots are also used in other products, like scoot mobiles where more power is required. He added that the speed limiting system can never be disabled if not for some intended glitch in the software, which is what happened in this case. The name of the engineer has been forwarded to the police and an arrest is expected. UltraSuck will release a downloadable patch on their web site to eliminate the Easter Egg's faulty code from the machine. The family's wife responded to our reporter by stating this was a very sick joke and that the word Easter Egg will never mean what it used to.


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