A delivery robot apparently lost control on a snowy sidewalk and smashed into a parked car last Saturday in Helsinki, Finland. It might not be possible to gauge motive from computer code, but I wouldn’t rule out the collision being intentional. The adorably-shaped six-wheeled Starship Technologies robot didn’t attempt to leave a note or contact the owner. It just rolled away like nothing happened. This isn’t the first time that one of our automated courier friends decided that the only thing that matters is its assigned task.
The incident was spotted by a passer-by who told Yle News, “Then it lurched back and forth against the side of the car, with the safety flag happily waving.” The eyewitness preferred to remain anonymous. I would too. The delivery bot mafia isn’t a joke. I would rather be hanged, drawn and quartered than get whacked by a stampede of robots rolling over me. The witness also admitted to lifting the delivery robot back onto the sidewalk, allowing the perpetrator to flee.
Both front and rear doors facing the curb were scratched in the crash. The passer-by added, “I notified the emergency centre about a ‘traffic accident.’ The businesslike but amused emergency operator said he would notify the police. The police called, asked for identification and said that this incident was a career first.” Finnish company S Group, the robot’s operator, is investigating the incident. I hope the offending robot is brought to justice.
The societal tug-of-war with delivery robots has been an ongoing struggle for years. In 2022, a bot just rolled through a crime scene at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles. By last September, reports revealed that onboard delivery footage was being sent to the LAPD. It won’t be long before they get handed a badge and a gun. That’s when they’ll flip a switch and decide robots should be in control.
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