A worker in a South Korean food-packing plant was crushed to death Wednesday by a robot that reportedly confused him with the box of vegetables he was holding.
The unidentified man worked for a robotic arm manufacturer and was “running checks” on it before a test run at a pepper-sorting plant, according to the BBC, which cited the South Korean news agency Yonhap.
“The robotic arm, confusing the man for a box of vegetables, grabbed him and pushed his body against the conveyer belt, crushing his face and chest,” according to the report.
The robot was supposed to lift boxes of peppers and load them onto pallets.
The test run originally had been scheduled for early this week but was delayed because of issues with the robot.
— Daily News (@DailyNews_lk) November 9, 2023
The man, who was in his 40s, had worked “late into the night on Wednesday” to solve a problem with the robot’s sensor.
He was transported to a hospital but later was pronounced dead.
The Associated Press quoted police in South Korea as confirming the death and suspecting “human error was more likely to blame rather than problems with the machine itself.”
Officials in Goseong County said the man died of injuries to the head and chest.
The BBC quoted a statement by an official at the plant as calling for a “precise and safe” system to be installed.
The AP reported that “the incident … triggered public concern about the safety of industrial robots and the false sense of security they may give to humans working nearby in a country that increasingly relies on such machines to automate its industries.”
As robots become more common in workplaces, other injuries have occurred.
Another South Korean factory worker — a man in his 50s — was seriously injured in March at an auto parts manufacturing plant when he was trapped by a robot, the BBC reported.
Chess robot breaks seven-year-old boy’s finger during Moscow Openhttps://t.co/rUC1SMuCuQ
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) July 24, 2022
A tournament official blamed the victim, saying the boy “went to move a piece too quickly after making a move,” according to the report.
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