Firemen were called to a house fire that broke out after a mechanical cleaning gadget somehow switched itself on and destroyed itself by moving onto a kitchen hotplate.
Local media in Austria have referred to the incident as ‘robot suicide’ and even suggested it was fed up with the constant cleaning it had to do.
Fireman Helmut Kniewasser was one of those called to tackle the blaze at Hinterstoder in Kirchdorf, Austria.
He said: ‘The home-owner had put the small robot on the work surface to clean up some spilled cereal. Once the robot had done its job it was switched off but left on the kitchen sideboard.
‘The 44-year-old house owner, together with his wife and son, then left the house and were not home when the robot set off.
‘Somehow it seems to have reactivated itself and made its way along the work surface where it pushed a cooking pot out of the way and basically that was the end of it.
‘It pretty quickly started to melt underneath and then stuck to the kitchen hotplate. It then caught fire. By the time we arrived, it was just a pile of ash.
‘The entire building had to be evacuated and there was severe smoke damage particularly in the flat where the robot had been in use.
‘I don’t know about the allegations of a robot suicide but the homeowner is insistent that the device was switched off – it’s a mystery how it came to be activated and ended up making its way to the hotplate.’
It took an hour to clean and make the building safe. But the family at least for the moment is homeless as their apartment is no longer habitable thanks to the smoke damage.
The homeowner said: ‘The company that makes the robots is selling dangerous devices, I intend to sue to get compensation. It has ruined my home as everything is smoke damaged.’