Robot grabs then brutally slaughters worker, allegedly mistaking him for a box of paprika

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An industrial robot brutally slaughtered a South Korean robotics technician Tuesday, allegedly mistaking him for just another container of organic material in need of stacking.

The victim, a man in his 40s, was attempting to diagnose an issue with a pick-and-place robot’s sensor at the Donggoseong Export Agricultural Complex in the southern county of Goseong, as there was an equipment test planned for later in the week,
reported the Register.

The paprika-sorting robot, reportedly created and installed by the victim’s employer, spotted the man with its sensor, figured him for a box of vegetables, then seized him using its arms and tongs. After grabbing the technician, the robot apparently smashed him against a conveyor belt.

According to the Korean-language Yonhap News Agency, the victim’s face and chest were crushed. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

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An official from the agricultural complex said the company has come to rely upon robots more and humans less and that the accident occurred after the facility attempted to make robots more efficient. The official added that “a precise and safe system must be established.”

On account of South Korea’s dwindling workforce, robots, smart and dumb, have become ubiquitous.

Nikkei Asia
reported last year that a rising minimum wage and a dearth of workers have made robots price-competitive in a variety of industries. For instance, robot waiters and robot chefs, introduced four years ago, are now in restaurants across the country. Robotic chefs can apparently fry 50 chickens an hour or cook up spicy rice cakes for five people in under 10 minutes. Fleshy and inspirited concierges are also fast being replaced by silicon and steel, although doesn’t seem their charm has yet been replicated.

According to the International Federation of Robotics, South Korea, the fourth-largest robot market in the world, has 1,000 robots installed per 10,000 employees, such that as of 2021, the country had the highest industrial robot density in the world by a giant margin.

Kang Jin-gi, lead investigator at the Goseong Police Station, indicated the South Korean worker’s killer “wasn’t an advanced, artificial intelligence-powered robot, but a machine that simply picks up boxes and puts them on pallets,” reported the Washington Post.

An unnamed police official suggested that the victim may have had a box in his hands at the time of the incident, which might explain why the robot snatched him up.

“It’s clearly not a case where a robot confused a human with a box — this wasn’t a very sophisticated machine,” said the official.

In February, the
American Journal of Industrial Medicine revealed that between 1992 and 2017, 41 people were reportedly killed by robots; 85% of the victims were men, the plurality falling between the ages of 35 and 44.

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