Robot crushes to death man mistaken for box of vegetables

Occurred: November 2023

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A South Korean worker was crushed to death by a robot that mistook him for a box of paprika peppers. 

The employee had been inspecting the robot’s sensor on the Donggoseong Export Agricultural Complex in south Korea when the robot arm - which was programmed to lift boxes of vegetables - mistook the employee for one, grabbed and placed him on a conveyor belt using its tongs and squeezed him.

The man, whose face and body were crushed by the conveyor belt, died shortly after arriving at a local hospital. The machine had been experiencing issues for days before the incident. 

A Donggoseong Export Agricultural Complex official told the Yonhap News agency, 'We have been using robots well with less labour, but recently we changed the work line and entrusted the work to more efficient use.'

The incident raised questions about the safety of the unnamed manufacturer of the robot and the working practices of the Agricultural Complex. 


Operator: Donggoseong Export Agricultural Complex
Country: S Korea
Sector: Manufacturing/engineering
Purpose: Sort products
Technology: Robotics
Issue: Robustness; Safety

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2024