Are the machines finally rising up against their human overlords? Well, probably not, but one plucky automaton nicknamed Little Fatty seems game to give it a try.
Xiaopang, which costs £1,200 and can perform tasks from giving massages and monitoring air quality to tutoring children in English, launched itself at a neighbouring booth at the China Hi-Tech Fair in Shenzhen last week, smashing a glass wall and slightly injuring one man.
Users of Weibo, the Chinese social media site equivalent to Twitter, reacted with amusement to the metre-tall robot’s rebellion, with one saying: “ Hawking’s prediction on the rise of the robots is coming true.” Others asked whether Little Fatty would use corporal punishment when it was tasked to teach children.
Evolver, the Beijing company behind Little Fatty, insisted that there had been no malfunction and that its operator had simply pressed the wrong button, sending it into reverse instead of moving him forward. The function allowing the robot to detect and avoid obstacles was turned off at the time.
The developers had little fatty apologise after the incident, his display showing a downcast face in a show of contrition.