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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Weird news: Man killed by automobile plant robot in Germany

Modern factories have a lot of automation that needs to happen. If you consider the assembly line of a modern automobile plant, there are a number of steps that need to happen again, which would include assembling various metal plates, bolting and welding them together, spray painting, etc. These used to be done by people earlier, but mostly these are repetitive operations that can be done by automation. Over the years, these assembly line operations have been taken over by robots; machines which do not look anything like the robots shown in movies, but essentially machines that have been built for such custom operations. These machines are expensive, but can work much faster than humans, have lower amount of errors and can easily earn back the amount invested in them.
One of the problems with robots or machines such as these is that they have been designed for a customer purpose which they do very well, but are not really designed for sudden or unusual events that happen, in which case their response would be nothing like how a human reacts. And the power that these machines have is pretty huge, being powered by machinery and being able to lift large weights easily and manipulate them. In this particular case, a contractor was killed in a mishap involving such a robot, where the robot grabbed the human and pushed him against a metal plate, killing in the process. And no, the robot is not being sent for a murder charge, but they would do well to investigate as to how the robot came to be in such a process (link to article):
A robot has killed a contractor at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany, the automaker has said. The man died on Monday at the plant in Baunatal, about 100km (62 miles) north of Frankfurt, VW spokesman Heiko Hillwig said. The 22-year-old was part of a team that was setting up the stationary robot when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate, Hillwig said. He said initial conclusions indicate that human error was to blame, rather than a problem with the robot, which can be programmed to perform various tasks in the assembly process. He said it normally operates within a confined area at the plant, grabbing auto parts and manipulating them.

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