Car manufacturers have used robotic arms and other forms of mechanical assistance for years to make car production quicker and easier than ever before, but as these robots become more and more advanced over the years, are we putting ourselves in a Terminator-style situation?
A contractor in his early 20's at a Volkswagen factory in Kassel, Germany has reportedly died after sustaining injuries from a robot intended to be used to build automobiles. The robot reportedly grabbed the man and then crushed him against a metal plate, which led to his hospitalization. The contractor later died after being hospitalized.
The robot that killed the contractor is a special kind of robot unlike most of the robots in the factory. This specific robot is made to stay in a safety cage, where it can perform its work safely without endangering workers, but sometimes, these robots need to be programmed and maintained, which means sending someone into the cage to work on it.
As it turns out, the contractor was inside of this safety cage with the robot when the incident happened, while a second worker was standing just outside of the cage in the safety zone.
The incident is raising skepticism about having robotic arms and similar robots working alongside humans in the factory, although Volkswagen is fighting for the right to use machinery to build cars, saying that the type of robot that caused this fatality is not the same as the kind that work alongside humans on the manufacturing line.
The incident is being blamed on "human error," suggesting that it wasn't a robotic malfunction. Prosecutors still don't appear to have made a decision on whether or not to press any charges; an investigation is still in progress to find out just what happened.
It is likely that stricter laws will be put on the use of robots in the facility to protect people from incidents like this.