In an industrial accident, a robot killed a 40-year-old worker at an agricultural complex in Korea. According to local media on Wednesday, the device was unable to distinguish between the people and the boxes of vegetables it was supposed to handle.
How did the accident with the robot occur?
The accident occurred Tuesday afternoon while a worker was checking the operation of sensors on an industrial robot. This device is a type of robotic arm that operates in a distribution center for agricultural products located in Goseong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do.
During operation, the robots mistook the workers for vegetable crates. One of them grabbed the man, pushing him onto the conveyor belt, stomping on his face and chest. The Korea Herald newspaper reported the facts, speaking to the city’s police. The worker was rushed to the hospital, but died.
The man, whose name has not been released, was an employee of a robot company that provided automation services to the Dongsong Agricultural Export Complex. The robot belonged to a new batch of work that was to be implemented soon in the working groups. After confirming that the robot worked properly, the victim tested it in a bell pepper sorting facility.
The robot launch was originally scheduled for November 6, but was delayed due to sensor problems. South Korea’s Yonhap TV channel reported everything that happened.
Robots completely change the work of factories
The owner of the agricultural and industrial complex needed an “accurate and safe” system for his factory. This is not the only known accident, as another 50-year-old Korean was seriously injured in March, according to AFP, while working in an auto parts factory and was caught by a robot.
Robotics is transforming manufacturing operations around the world. For example, Amazon already has more than 750,000 robots performing repetitive production tasks alongside employees. On the other hand, the company also began testing two new humanoid robots that would have more advanced functionalities.
On the other hand, China recently announced a plan to start production of its first humanoid robot in 2025. According to a document from the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the goal is to combine the latest advances in robotics and artificial intelligence. The ministry is confident that they will be able to establish a stable industrial supply system that will sustain production for years to come.
Will robots be the workers of the future?
In Korea, however, robots are not limited to industrial facilities. A Financial Times report published last August describes how robots are being used to reduce labor shortages in a country with one of the lowest birth rates.
For example, robots are helping in the hospitality sector. According to the Korea Robot Industry Association, some 5,000 robot waiters were shipped to Korea last year. This is a 67% increase compared to 2021.
We still do not know if this type of tragedy will mark a before and after in the use of the most modern technologies.