Skip to main content

Robot crushes man to death after mistaking him for a box

A smart factory concept.

A robot crushed a man to death after apparently mistaking him for a box, South Korean media reported.

The tragedy occurred on Wednesday evening local time at a vegetable sorting facility in South Gyeongsang province about 150 miles south of Seoul, according to the BBC.

The industrial robot is designed to lift boxes of vegetables and place them on a pallet, but as an employee from the company that made the machine ran checks on it, the robot suddenly pushed him against a conveyor belt, crushing his face and chest.

After being freed, he was rushed to hospital with severe injuries but later died.

The employee, aged in his 40s, had been working to fix an issue with the robot’s sensors, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Following the incident, an official from the Dongseong Export Agricultural Complex, which owns the plant, called for a “precise and safe” system to be put in place.

Wednesday’s accident follows a similar one earlier this year when a South Korean man in his 50s became trapped by a robot while on shift at an automobile parts factory, leaving him with serious injuries.

The incidents demonstrate that while robots can bring significant benefits in terms of efficiency, they can also pose a risk to nearby humans if they’re not properly designed or maintained, or if those working alongside them fail to receive suitable training.

Tech giant Amazon, known to deploy huge numbers of robots at its warehouses with plans for more, recently commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conduct research that will include a look at how workers can interact with robots safely and efficiently.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Telepresence classroom robots trialed for absent students
best telepresence robots

A school in Japan is turning to robots to tackle rising truancy rates.

The school in Kumamoto, southwest Japan, will allow absent students to control telepresence robots in the classroom. Officials behind the initiative hope the setup will eventually encourage the students to return to school, the Mainichi newspaper reported.

Read more
The squishy Sensiworm robot goes places other robots can’t
GE Aerospace's Sensiworm robot.

GE Aerospace's "Sensiworm"

GE Aerospace has unveiled a remarkable -- and remarkably squishy -- robot called Sensiworm (Soft ElectroNics Skin-Innervated Robotic Worm) that’s set to enhance aircraft safety.

Read more
Apptronik’s new humanoid robot is a rival to the Tesla Bot
Apptronik's Apollo humanoid robot.

Another humanoid robot has come sniffing for your job.

Created by Texas-based Apptronik, the new robot worker, called Apollo, certainly looks like the real deal and is far from the kind of clunky, awkward contraptions that sometimes appear at such unveilings. That's probably because Apollo is the culmination of Apptronik’s experience and expertise in creating more than 10 other robots, among them NASA’s Valkyrie humanoid robot.

Read more