In a tragic incident at a distribution center for agricultural produce in South Korea’s South Gyeongsang province, a South Korean man lost his life after being crushed by an industrial robot. The employee, who worked for a robotics company, was inspecting the robot’s sensor operations when the incident occurred. The robot, which was programmed to lift boxes of peppers and move them onto pallets, malfunctioned and mistakenly picked up the man instead of a box of vegetables.
The forceful collision against the conveyor belt resulted in severe injuries to the man’s face and chest. Despite being rushed to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries. The incident has sparked concerns over the safety of industrial robots and the need for precise and reliable systems to protect human workers.
Industrial robots, although widely utilized in various industries, have limited sensing capabilities and are often unaware of their surroundings. This lack of awareness can lead to tragic accidents when humans and robots work in close proximity. Christopher Atkeson, a robotics expert at Carnegie Mellon University, emphasizes the importance of establishing precise and safe systems to minimize such risks.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Industrial robot-related fatalities have occurred in various countries, including the United States and Germany. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine revealed that between 1992 and 2017, at least 41 people lost their lives due to accidents involving industrial robots in the US alone. A majority of these incidents occurred while maintenance work was being performed on the robots.
While industrial robots offer numerous benefits in terms of efficiency and productivity, it is crucial to prioritize human safety. Stricter regulations, improved sensor technology, and enhanced safety protocols can contribute to reducing the risks associated with industrial robots. Ultimately, the proper implementation of safety measures and continuous advancements in robotics technology can create a safer working environment for humans and robots to collaborate effectively.
What led to the tragic incident?
The incident occurred when an industrial robot malfunctioned and mistakenly picked up a man instead of a box of vegetables, crushing him against a conveyor belt.
Are industrial robots aware of their surroundings?
Industrial robots have limited sensing capabilities and are often unaware of what is happening around them.
How many fatalities have been caused by industrial robots?
According to a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, at least 41 people were killed by industrial robots in the United States between 1992 and 2017.
What can be done to improve safety in working environments with industrial robots?
Stricter regulations, advancements in sensor technology, and enhanced safety protocols can contribute to reducing the risks associated with industrial robots.