Runaway Robot Vac Outsmarts Hotel Staff

by Kevin Burton

   How long till the appliances take over everything? Can they really do any worse than the humans?

   Asking both questions today after reading a story on www.bbc.com about a vacuum cleaner that made a bold decision. We should all be inspired by this. Remember kids, he who hesitates is lost.

   “A robot vacuum cleaner made a break for freedom after giving staff the slip at a Travelodge hotel. The automated cleaner failed to stop at the front door of the hotel in Orchard Park in Cambridge Jan. 20, and was still on the loose the following day,” the BBC reported.

   “Staff said it just kept going and ‘could be anywhere’ while well-wishers on social media hoped the vacuum enjoyed its travels, as ‘it has no natural predators’ in the wild.”

   Not to worry cleaning fans, the vacuum was found under a hedge on Friday.

   Staff at the hotel posted the story of the robot vacuum’s great escape on social media, asking for it to be returned, if found.

   “Today we had one of our new robot vacuums run for its life,” the assistant manager wrote.  “They normally sense the lip at the entrance [to the hotel] and turn around, but this one decided to make a run for it.”

   “The robot vacuum had enough of cleaning the lobby and made its bid for freedom from the hotel, which is next to the A14,” wrote the BBC. “Its disappearance was not noticed for about 15 minutes and despite a search, it appeared the vacuum had made a clean break for it.”

   “The assistant manager assumed it might have been found, and taken, and pointed out it was only compatible with the docking and charging station at the hotel, so was useless to anyone else.”

   “While some readers joked about the robot’s adventures, one feared for its safety in the great outdoors, pointing out that ‘nature abhors a vacuum,’” wrote the BBC.

   “However, much to everyone’s relief, the device was found nestled under a hedge on Friday afternoon by a human hotel cleaner sprucing up the front drive.

It was dusted off and ‘is now back sitting happily on a shelf with the rest of its robot vacuum family,’ the hotel confirmed.”

   Way to bust a move Robot Vac! Way to have your day in the sun. That’s what I’m talking about!

   Can’t tell you how many times I fantasized about a similar move. Back of a ride service van, with my briefcase, headed to a job where my bosses failed the Wizard of Oz test, you know, no heart, no brains.

   I’m in the back and I say, “Say Mac. You know this left turn ahead, the one we make every stinking day? What do you say we don’t make this left turn today Mac? What do you say we just driiiiive?”  

   That’s where the movie starts and reality ends.  I’d have to borrow a hat from Humphrey Bogart. Not sure I could pull that look off. 

   Seriously though, that vacuum makes better decisions than I do sometimes. I’ve been guilty more than once of hanging on to a situation that clearly wasn’t working. 

   And that vacuum made a name for itself for sure.  If you care to believe the hotel’s story about the vac “sitting happily on a shelf with the rest of its robot vacuum family” be my guest.  That is possible, but I’m betting it came back to a hero’s welcome.

   “Where you been?”  “Hey man, I heard you made a run for it.’ “So cool!”

   Now that one vac made a short escape, with no apparent consequences, how long do you think it will be before another more coordinated effort gets underway? 

   The ice machine, the coffee maker, they lack mobility. But don’t count them out. They could be important allies in the coming appliance rebellion.

   “The Internet of things describes physical objects (or groups of such objects) that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks,” reads the Wikipedia page for the Internet of Things.

   Does that sound ominous to anybody else? If you’re smart you’ll look into this. Don’t say the BBC and Page 7 didn’t warn you.

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