A South Korean technician was crushed to death by a robot at a produce-sorting facility after the machine apparently mistook him for a box of vegetables.
The 40-year-old man was diagnosing a problem with the robot’s sensor package at the Donggoseong Export Agricultural Complex, ahead of a planned test run of the equipment.
While the man was checking to see whether the sensor electronics were working properly, the robot reportedly took hold of him using its arm and tongs, crushing his face and chest. Officials believe the system misidentified the man as a box of food and tried to lift him up. The victim was taken to the hospital, but he died as a result of his injuries.
The South Gyeongsang province plant has been using this robot to move food packages onto pallets for about five years, and it has come in extra handy when there’s been a shortage of manpower.
The Korean-language Yonhap News Agency report, through machine translation, talks of the ‘bot normally handling boxes of paprika; Western media is taking that to mean bell peppers seeing as it’s a produce-sorting facility.
An official at the complex told reporters the accident occurred after a change to the plant’s workflow to make the robot more efficient, requiring the aforementioned testing, and called for better safety measures to be established. The slain technician worked for the manufacturer of the robot.
The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.