When a South Korean woman invested in a robot vacuum cleaner, the idea was to leave her trustworthy gadget to do its work while she took a break from household chores.
Instead, the 52-year-old resident of Changwon city ended up being the victim of what many believe is a peek into a dystopian future in which supposedly benign robots turn against their human masters.
The woman, whose name is being withheld, was taking a nap on the floor at home when the vacuum cleaner locked on to her hair and sucked it up, apparently mistaking it for dust.
The agony of having her hair entangled in the bowels of the contraption roused the woman from her slumber.
Unable to free herself, she called the fire department with a “desperate rescue plea” and was separated from the robot’s clutches by paramedics, according to the South Korean newspaper the Kyunghyang Shinmun.
She escaped serious injury, although it is not known whether she has retained the autonomous cleaner’s services.
Robot vacuum cleaners have grown in popularity in recent years, with US firm iRobot’s circular Roomba selling well over 10 million units in the 12 years since its debut in 2002.
Panasonic recently unveiled Rulo, a triangular rival to Roomba that the Japanese firm says is more adept at sucking up dust from corners.
The wheeled gadgets are equipped with sensors that enable them to steer clear of obstacles, avoid tumbling down stairs, and detect dust and other debris on the floor. They can also be programmed to seek out a recharging dock.
Korean Biz Wire pointed out, however, that people from cultures in which it’s commonplace to sit or nap on the floor — such as Japan and South Korea — may be more vulnerable to vacuum robot rage. — By Justin McCurry
Image – A robot vacuum cleaner cleans the floor in T-Com’s “House of the Future” in Berlin, April 2005. The house, a project by Deutsche Telekom, WeberHaus, Neckermann Versand and Siemens, features intelligent applications of products that reflect current technologies such as the internet, digital television and wireless. (AFP)