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Robot crushes man to death after malfunctioning while packing boxes

Robot crushes man to death after malfunctioning while packing boxes

The worker was crushed to death by an industrial robot, which had mistaken him for a box of vegetables

An employee in South Korea was killed in a tragic accident after a robot mistook him for a box of vegetables.

The machine involved in the awful incident on 7 November was one of two robots which were used to 'pick-and-place' produce at the facility.

The facility in Goseong, South Korea, packages produce including bell peppers for export to other Asian countries, and uses the robots in the warehouse.

The industrial robots are equipped with sensors which are designed to identify boxes which they then pick up and move about the warehouse without human workers needing to do so.

CCTV footage from the warehouse appears to show the man moving close to the robot carrying a box in his hands.

The man was then snatched and pressed against a conveyor belt by the machine’s robotic arms.

Tragically this led to the unidentified worker sustaining fatal head and chest injuries.

The man had been brought in to check on the robot.
Getty Stock Image

Kang Jin-gi, who heads up the investigations department at Gosong Police Station, said: “It wasn’t an advanced, artificial intelligence-powered robot, but a machine that simply picks up boxes and puts them on pallets."

Police did not publish the name of the employee, but confirmed that he had been sent to the factory to see if the robots were working properly.

An investigation is now underway to determine if the machine had any technical issues or safety concerns raised in the past.

Another officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to reporters, said authorities were also looking into the possibility of human error.

The man has not been identified by police.
Getty Stock Image

As the robot's sensors are designed to identify boxes, it's possible that the man approaching it with a box may have caused it to respond, the official said.

They added: “It’s clearly not a case where a robot confused a human with a box - this wasn’t a very sophisticated machine."

This is not the first time that an industrial robot has been involved in an accident in South Korea.

In 2022 a robot which had been installed near to a conveyor belt in a milk factory in Pyeongtaek fatally crushed an employee.

Later, in March of this year, a manufacturing robot crushed and seriously injured an employee at an auto parts factory in Gunsan.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Topics: News, World News, Science, Technology