A Roomba robot vacuum cleaner took photos of a woman sitting on the toilet. These photos then ended up on Facebook. MIT Technology Review researched how this could happen.
Photos were taken by Roomba
In 2020, intimate photos, including a woman on a toilet, were shared on closed social media groups. Very disturbing, or not quite? It turned out to be photos taken with a Roomba. iRobot confirmed this to MIT Technology Review.
Part of program for AI capabilities
It wasn't a hack: the photos were taken and shared by a special Roomba robot vacuum cleaner with recording equipment. It was part of a program to develop AI capabilities for the new Roomba J7.
Roomba robot vacuum cleaners with this recording equipment were labeled with a bright green sticker that read “video recording in progress.” Participants were paid to participate in the program and would be informed that data – including video recordings – would be sent back to iRobot.
‘Startup Scale AI shared photos on social media'
iRobot in turn shared these recordings with a startup called Scale AI. Research showed that Venezuelan employees shared photos – including of the lady in the bathroom – on private groups on Facebook and Discord, among others. The purpose of this was to work together on their work.
Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, told MIT Technology that it has ended its partnership with the company and is actively investigating this case. Measures are also being taken to prevent a similar leak in the future.