In South Korea, a tragic incident occurred when a worker lost his life due to a robot that made a tragic mistake. The unfortunate event took place in the South Gyeongsang region while the worker was checking the robot’s sensor.
This particular robot was designed to pick up boxes of vegetables. However, it made an error, confusing the employee for one of those boxes. Instead of doing its usual task, the robot grabbed the worker and placed him on the conveyor belt.
As a result, the man in his forties suffered severe injuries. The conveyor belt crushed his face and body. Tragically, he later succumbed to these injuries, losing his life, reported Metro.co.uk.
Before the incident, the person who lost his life was working on fixing a machine that had been having problems for several days.
The Dongseong Export Agricultural Complex, the owner of the facility, has urged the implementation of a system that is accurate and ensures safety, emphasizing the need for improvements after this event.
Not an advanced, artificial intelligence-powered robot’
Kang Jin-gi, the head of the investigations department at Goseong Police Station, clarified that the machine involved in the incident wasn’t a high-tech, artificial intelligence-powered robot.
Instead, it was a basic machine designed to pick up boxes and place them on pallets. He mentioned that the police, in collaboration with relevant agencies, are actively investigating to determine if the machine had technical flaws or safety concerns, according to CBS News.
1. A man has been crushed to death by a robot in South Korea, after it failed to differentiate him from the boxes of food it was handling.
According to Yonhap, the robotic arm appeared to have malfunctioned and identified the man as a box, as it lifted boxes of bell peppers. pic.twitter.com/iDJNWdjPyu
— BFM News (@NewsBFM) November 9, 2023
A police official, preferring to stay anonymous due to lack of authorization to speak to reporters, mentioned that investigators are also considering the chance of human error in the incident.
The robot’s sensors are specifically made to recognize boxes. Security camera footage showed the man approaching the robot while holding a box, likely causing the machine to react, as per the official.
“It’s clearly…a case where a robot confused a human with a box—this wasn’t a very sophisticated machine,” he said.
41 people killed by industrial robots in the USA between 1992 and 2017
A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reported that forty-one individuals lost their lives to industrial robots in the United States from 1992 to 2017. Moreover, nearly four out of five of these fatalities occurred during maintenance activities rather than during operation.
In early 2020, a tragic incident unfolded at a UPS facility in Kansas City, Missouri, where 24-year-old Jakob Dakota Watson, a UPS worker, lost his life after getting stuck on a mail sorting conveyor belt.
In another event in 2018, a factory worker named Brett Dolby, 44, lost his life during a night shift in Bedfordshire. He was operating a Duffy machine when he became trapped between two rollers, as reported by Metro.co.uk.