Man crushed by robot “likely human error”
A man has been crushed to death by an industrial robot that “mistook” him for a box, according to South Korean media.
The worker, in his 40s, was a technician for the robotics vendor and was inspecting the robot’s sensors ahead of a test run at a warehouse for agricultural products in South Gyeongsang province.
At the time, the robot was lifting boxes of bell peppers when it mistook the man and took hold of him using its arm and tongs, crushing his face and chest, the police reports say.
The victim was taken to hospital and later died as a result of his injuries.
In a statement, an official from the Donggoseong Export Agricultural Complex, which owns the plant, called for a “precise and safe” system to be established.
The official told reporters that the accident happened after a change to the warehouse’s workflow to make the robot more efficient, requiring some testing.
“It wasn’t an advanced, artificial intelligence-powered robot, but a machine that simply picks up boxes and puts them on pallets,” Kang Jin-gi, head of the investigations department at Gosong Police Station told CBS News.
According to CBS, another unnamed police official explained that they were looking into the possibility of human error, as CCTV footage indicates the man had moved near the robot with a box in his hands, which likely triggered the robot’s reaction.
“It’s clearly not a case where a robot confused a human with a box – this wasn’t a very sophisticated machine,” he said.
In March, a 50-year-old South Korean man suffered serious injuries after a robot trapped him while working at a vehicle parts manufacturing plant. And, last year, a robot installed near a conveyer belt fatally crushed a worker at a milk factory in Pyeongtaek.
Industry 4.0 will mean many more robots may be introduced in workplaces over the coming years.
Food retailer, Ocado, for example, has mega-sized automated warehouses, with its AI and ML-powered robotics.
Plus, the UK’s farms will see an increased robotic presence with agritech seeing a £12.5 million funding from the government.
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