11 July 2024

SEOUL – A man was crushed to death by a robot in South Korea after the machine apparently failed to differentiate him from the boxes of produce it was handling, the Straits Times quoted Yonhap News Agency as reporting on Wednesday.

The man, a robotics company worker in his 40s, was inspecting the robot’s sensor operations at a distribution centre for agricultural produce in South Gyeongsang province.

The industrial robot, which was lifting boxes filled with bell peppers and placing them on a pallet, appeared to have malfunctioned and identified the man as a box, Yonhap reported, citing the police.

The robotic arm pushed the man’s upper body down against the conveyor belt, crushing his face and chest. The accident happened at around 7.45pm on Tuesday. He was transferred to hospital but died later, the report said.

The police are preparing to launch an investigation into the centre’s on-site safety managers for possible negligence in duties.

In March, a South Korean man in his 50s suffered serious injuries after getting trapped by a robot while working at an automobile parts manufacturing plant.