Calgary e-scooter pilot hits road bump with units hacked to take down geologists, managers

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Out of control e-scooter.

CALGARY, Alberta – When a fleet of nearly 400 electric scooters debuted in Calgary this July as part of a 16-month pilot, the city and the scooter vendors understood that there would be the typical issues to overcome including abandoned and destroyed units, not to mention scooters being used inappropriately and by under-aged riders.  But never did they think that units would be modified to take down a certain segment of the downtown Calgary population: geoscientists.

According to a report from Lemonade E-Scooters’ online telemetry of its Calgary fleet, at least 27 of its scooters in Calgary have experienced erratic behavior that is not in accordance with their original control system programming.

Daveed Nillass, Lemonade E-Scooters

“We noticed that a number of units would accelerate uncontrollably and without notice, putting riders in harm’s way. Digging a little deeper, we could see that those injured were riders with a geological background. We sent one of the affected units back to our engineering headquarters for analysis and learned that they had been reprogrammed.” – Daveed Nillass, PR manager for Lemonade

When the Toronto-based company reverse engineered the code extracted from the unit, they learned that they had been reprogrammed with the following detection logic and output action:

  • Input Detection 1: A special nano-camera retrofitted just beneath the bell housing equipped with sophisticated AI to detect subjects simultaneously wearing khaki tops and pants, any khaki zip-off shorts, or any combination of shorts with black or brown socks, Birkenstock sandals, and a Tilley hat.
  • Input Detection 2: Front light replaced with an array of olfactory sensors that can detect body odour to 1 part in 19 trillion. When it detects a subject with a body odour concentration of at least 18.5 trillion parts per 19 trillion, the system assumes that it is a geologist.
  • Output Action: Even if the scooter is idle, it will ramp up to twice the originally programmed speed limit and lock onto the subject. Any non-geologist riders are considered collateral damage.
  • Input Detection: Hand grips that can detect trace amounts of crayon material on the rider’s hands.
  • Output Action: Unit to auto-pilot to the 7th avenue C-train corridor and play chicken with trains and buses.
  • Input Detection: A sophisticated Extrasensory Bio Tactile Math IQ Perception Meter is able to detect the rider’s proficiency with mathematics. If it senses that the rider’s math level falls below the Grade 8 remedial math threshold, it will execute its output action.
  • Output Action: The scooter will rapidly change the magnitude and direction of it 3rd derivative of distance with respect to time (therefore making it a jerk) to buck off the rider. If the rider was not a geologist, then he or she was not likely 18 years of age and needed to be thrown off anyhow.

So far, 176 incidents of injured geoscientists have been reported in the last 2 weeks. 2P News finds this hard to believe because there doesn’t even appear to be half that many geologists and geophysicists in downtown Calgary at this stage of a protracted downturn that started in early 2015.

The Calgary Bylaw Enforcement Committee is warning people about these scooters and they are feverously trying to get them off the roads.

Bruce McKurkinson, Calgary Bylaw

“Why somebody would want to hurt geologists is beyond us, they are a harmless bunch until they get too much beer into them which is pretty much all of the time. Other than commonly nabbing them for public indecency when they streak through Prince’s Island Park, they don’t cause anybody too much trouble.”

In response to these recent hacks, executives at Lemonade have decided to push a patch to all units that implement a 4th law of robotics that states that no scooter can do harm to geologists.

Update: Calgary Bylaw have traced the source of the hacks to a group of 3 engineers at AGF Geological (Advanced Ground Fondlers) who were out to get back at their geological managers for banning Magic The Gathering from the their downtown Calgary office.

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