A man has reportedly been crushed to death in Goseong, South Korea, after an industrial robot — which allegedly mistook him for a box — pushed his upper body against a conveyor belt.
The victim, who sustained fatal head and chest injuries, has only been identified as a robotics company employee in his 40s, who was inspecting the robot's sensor at a vegetable-packaging center at the time of the incident.
This tragic incident has been investigated to determine whether the robot was unsafe or had potential technical defects. Given the unsophisticated nature of the machine, the most likely explanation is human error. This story should not cause any kind of concern about the usage of robots in industry.
Even if this tragedy were caused by human error, it's reasonable that the incident has further intensified fears related to the dangers of industrial robots. As South Korea increasingly relies on industrial automation, it is important that dialogue around potential issues with industry transformation is entirely transparent and workers feel safe and informed moving forward.
There's a 50% chance that a humanoid robot will be created that the general public judges as indistinguishable from humans in February 2058, according to the Metaculus prediction community.