Robot crushes man to death, mistaking it for a box of vegetables: reports

This photo provided by the Gyeongsangnam-do Fire Department, South Korea, shows the interior of a vegetable packing plant after the deadly robot crushed it.
Gyeongsangnam-do Fire Department, South Korea via AP

  • An industrial robot in South Korea reportedly mistook a man for a can of vegetables.
  • The robotic arm lifted him and pushed him onto the conveyor belt, crushing his face and chest.
  • The man was taken to hospital and later died of his injuries, Yonhap News Agency reported.

A robot reportedly crushed a man to death in South Korea after it malfunctioned and mistook it for a box of vegetables.

The incident occurred at a distribution center for agricultural products in South Gyeongsang Province on Wednesday, Korean news agency Yonhap was first to report.

The robot was primarily used to lift boxes of sweet peppers and move them onto pallets, and was one of two in use at the facility. According to NBC News.

Such machines are common in agricultural centers in South Korea, the news outlet said.

The accident occurred while one of the company’s employees in his forties was at the center checking the sensors of the robotic arm. According to BBC News.

Yonhap reported, citing police officials, that the machine confused him with a vegetable box, and thus lifted him and pushed his body towards the conveyor belt.

Police said the robot crushed his face and chest.

The news agency reported that the victim, whose name was not revealed, was taken to hospital but died of his wounds.

Kang Jin-ji, who heads the investigations department at Gusong Police Station, told NBC News that the robot was not “an advanced AI robot, but a machine that simply picks up boxes and places them on pallets.”

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He said police were investigating whether the robot had any defects or safety issues.

Another police official, who requested to remain anonymous, told NBC News that the incident may have been due to human error.

He said the robot’s sensors are programmed to detect boxes, and surveillance footage appears to show the man walking toward the machine with a box in his hands, potentially triggering it, according to NBC News.

Insider was unable to reach Donggoseong Agricultural Export Complex, which owns the center. But in a statement provided to the BBC, a factory official called for the creation of an “accurate and safe” system.

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