A robot killed a 22-year-old German man at a Volkswagen factory this week. Ironically, the worker was crushed while he was helping to set up the stationary robot inside a metal cage that is designed to keep potentially dangerous robots separated from factory personnel. The robot, which can be programmed to manipulate auto parts for engine assembly, grabbed the contractor and smashed him against a metal plate. The young man was transported to a nearby hospital where he died later from the injuries.
Volkswagon is one of many companies have turned to robots to assist or replace human workers. Thanks to advanced robotics, machines can now greet customers, fetch tools, cook gourmet meals, and build bridges. The recent incident exposes the potential dangers of bringing powerful robots into the workplace. Initial conclusions, however; indicate that the accident was caused by human error, not a defective robot. Volkswagon has not said much about the incident yet because of an ongoing investigation and potential legal issues. Another contractor was nearby when the incident occurred, but was not harmed because he was outside of the robot’s cage.