Last Friday afternoon, on campus at the University of California, Berkeley, a Kiwibot delivery robot self-immolated. Eventually, , it was put out by a bystander who had the presence of mind to grab a fire extinguisher.
Kiwi, a startup born out of UC Berkeley's "Skydeck" startup accelerator, relies on a variety of different robots to offer its food-delivery services, and the four-wheeled bots, like the one that caught on fire,. The bots have delivered more than 10,000 meals over the past year, mostly without incident until now.
According to , university police are coordinating with Kiwi to uncover the cause of the fire, which is currently unclear. While the specific cause may be unknown, the broader one is clear: Any electric vehicle with a sizable battery is a giant firebomb ready to go off under the right conditions. Fortunately, in this case, it wasn't near anything else it could light ablaze. And, of less but still notable importance, no one's food was inside.