Technology

Scooters hacked to play rude messages to riders

Riders on Lime e-scooter Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lime is bidding to run e-scooter services in Brisbane

Lime scooters in Brisbane have been making suggestive and offensive comments to riders after pranksters swapped audio files on some vehicles.

The scooters were hacked to make a variety of comments most of which were sexual in nature, local papers in the city reported.

At least eight scooters had files swapped in the cyber-attack.

Lime said the prank was "not funny" and that it was working to return the hacked scooters to their normal state.

Sudden stop

Videos on YouTube uploaded by riders who had received the hacked messages revealed that the scooters had been altered.

The Channel Seven TV news station in Brisbane captured and posted footage of an entire row of hacked e-scooters playing the messages.

One message had the scooter saying: "Don't take me around, because I don't like to be ridden."

Another played when riders ended a journey on a scooter at which point the speaker on the gadget said: "No, where you go?"

Lime spokesman Nelson Savanh told the Brisbane Times that the prank was the work of "vandals" and that it was checking its entire fleet to see how many had been tampered with.

"It's not smart, it's not funny and is akin to changing a ringtone," he said.

"It's disappointing that someone has taken this opportunity to poke fun at members of the community in a hurtful way," added Mr Savanh.

Lime e-scooters are currently on trial in Brisbane with the city's council considering whether to grant the transportation firm a licence to operate permanently.

Eight other companies have submitted applications to run rentable, electric scooters in the city. Only two licences are available.

The hack comes in the same month that Lime had to issue a software update to many scooters around the world to fix a glitch that led to some riders being injured.

The problem meant that the scooters would suddenly slam on their brakes when riders were going at full speed down hill.

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