Robot kills worker at Volkswagen plant in Germany

A Contractor was setting up the stationary robot when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate at the plant in Baunatal

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Volkswagen worker
An investigation is under way into whether human error was to blame for the death of a contractor at the hands of a robot at a Volkswagen production plant. Photograph: Joerg

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.

Another contractor was present when the incident occurred, but was not harmed, Hillwig said. He declined to give any more details about the case, citing an ongoing investigation.
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German news agency DPA reported that prosecutors were considering whether to bring charges, and if so, against whom.
“Earlier this week a 22-year-old contractor was injured while installing some machinery in the Kassel factory,” Volkswagen said in a statement.
“He died later in hospital from his injuries and our thoughts are with his family.
“We are if course carrying out a thorough investigation into the incident and cannot comment further at this time.”
Other Robot Murders:
Robots have caused at least 26 workplace deaths in the US alone in the past 30 years, according to government data.
The first recorded robot-related death took place in 1971, at a Ford car production line in Michigan.
Robert Williams, an assembly line worker, was killed when a robot arm slammed into him as he was gathering parts in a storage facility.
The second known case was in Japan in 1981, when Kenji Urada, an engineer at a Kawasaki factory, was pushed into a grinding machine by a broken robot he was working on.
It later emerged he had failed to turn off the robot completely. Volkswagen said in a statement.
“He died later in hospital from his injuries and our thoughts are with his family.

Audi Production Line Ahead Of Earnings...INGOLSTADT, GERMANY - MARCH 08:  Robots weld the car body of an Audi at the production line on March 8, 2010 in Ingolstadt, Germany. Audi AG is a unit of Volkswagen AG.  (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

Audi Production Line Ahead Of Earnings…INGOLSTADT, GERMANY – MARCH 08: Robots weld the car body of an Audi at the production line on March 8, 2010 in Ingolstadt, Germany. Audi AG is a unit of Volkswagen AG. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)


“We are if course carrying out a thorough investigation into the incident and cannot comment further at this time.”
Robots have caused at least 26 workplace deaths in the US alone in the past 30 years, according to government data.
The first recorded robot-related death took place in 1971, at a Ford car production line in Michigan.

Robert Williams, an assembly line worker, was killed when a robot arm slammed into him as he was gathering parts in a storage facility.
The second known case was in Japan in 1981, when Kenji Urada, an engineer at a Kawasaki factory, was pushed into a grinding machine by a broken robot he was working on.
It later emerged he had failed to turn off the robot completely.

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