South Korean Man Crushed to Death by Factory Robot

  CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images
CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Authorities are looking into the death of a South Korean man who was killed by an industrial robot.

According to NBC News, the incident occurred earlier this week at a produce packing in the southern county of Goseong. Officials have not released the victim’s name, but said he was a 40-something-year-old man who employed by a company that installs commercial robots. He reportedly went to the vegetable packing facility to check on some of the company’s machines and ensure they were working properly.

Outlets report that the factory was equipped a couple of “pick-and-place robots” that were used to package bell peppers and other vegetables that were sent around Asia. At one point during his visit, the man was grabbed by a robotic arm pressed against a convey belt. He sustained severe injuries to his chest and head, and ultimately died Tuesday.

“It wasn’t an advanced, artificial intelligence-powered robot, but a machine that simply picks up boxes and puts them on pallets,” said Kang Jin-gi, who heads the investigations department at Gosong Police Station.

Another law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the robot is designed to identify boxes and place them on pallets; however, he suspected the death was a result of human error, as surveillance footage captured the man moving in a way that might've triggered the robot's actions.

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

South Korean officials are now trying to determine if the machine had any defects.