Increasing numbers of companies are using robots to work alongside humans, but this can lead to new workplace risks and dangers.
Case in point, a worker at a robotics company in South Korea was killed by a robot in a food handling factory. The robot was unable to distinguish the worker from the vegetables it was handling, leading to the tragic accident.
According to reports, the man who was examining the robot was forcefully grabbed and pushed against a conveyor belt, resulting in the robot crushing his face and chest. This serves as a graphic reminder of the actual risks workers face as technology advances, and highlights the difficulties in developing robots that can work alongside humans without causing harm.
This is not the first instance of a robot causing the death of a human. In 1979, a malfunctioning robot at a Ford casting plant collided with a 25-year-old worker’s head, which is often considered the earliest known case of a robot causing a human fatality.
A fatal incident occurred in July 2015 at a Volkswagen factory in Germany when a man was fatally crushed by a stationary robot, resulting in his death.
Manufacturers are depending more on advanced robots that can handle tasks such as lifting heavy objects or assembling components. Some companies are planning to take this to its extreme — fully automated, “dark” factory floors that don’t even require the lights to be on during operations.
According to experts, humans will still be needed to fix robots when they malfunction, which means there will likely be more incidents like this in the future. The warehouse automation market is projected to reach a value of $34.4 billion by 2031 in the US and Europe, as per recent research.
Reference- BBC, The Guardian, The Verge, Interesting Engineering, CNBC, Globe Newswire