Robots will soon be cleaning our homes, performing surgery and even building skyscrapers.
But a top security firm claims that robots – including those currently on the market – could attack humans, burgle homes and wreak havoc on a factory floor.
There have already been serious accidents including a bride-to-be who was crushed to death by a robot just two weeks before she was due to marry the love of her life.
A robot cannon also killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a US military exercise in 2007.
But researchers at IOActive – who famously revealed how to hack a jeep remotely while it was zooming along at high speed – are concerned over how easy it is to hack a robot and make it do nasty things to humans and even their pets.
During the past six months, IOActive’s researchers tested mobile applications, robot operating systems, firmware images, and other software in order to identify the flaws in several robots that are available to buy right now, which the Sun have decided not to name.
They found that several of the robots could be hacked remotely.
Hacked robots “are more dangerous” than hacked computers because the addition of arms, legs or wheels could cause serious harm, IOActive claimed.
In a report, released on Wednesday, IOActive’s Cesar Cerrudo wrote: “A hacked robot operating inside a home might spy on a family via the robot’s microphones and cameras.
“An attacker could also use a robot’s mobility to cause physical damage in the house.
“Compromised robots could even hurt family members and pets with sudden, unexpected movements, since hacked robots can bypass safety protections that limit movements.”
But it gets worse.
As robots get smaller they “could start fires in a kitchen” or “poison family members and pets by mixing toxic substances in with food or drinks”.
Family members and pets “could be in further peril if a hacked robot was able to grab and manipulate sharp objects”.
There’s also a burglary risk, the experts claimed.
Robots integrated with home automation systems could unlock and open doors and deactivate home alarms.
It said: “Even if robots are not integrated, they could still interact with voice assistants, such as Alexa or Siri, which integrate with home automation and alarm systems.
“If the robot can talk or allow an attacker to talk through its speaker, it could tell voice-activated assistants to unlock doors and disable home security.