Robot Kills Man at Volkswagen Plant

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Robot Grabs, Crushes Man at Volkswagen Plant

A robot has killed a contractor at one of Volkswagen's production plants on Wednesday in Germany, said the automaker. The man died Monday at the plant in Baunatal, (about 62 miles from Frankfurt) according to VW spokesman Heiko Hillwig.

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.

Initial investigations indicate that human error was to blame (not the robot). The robot, 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.

The technician was in the process of installing the robot with a colleague when he was struck in the chest by it and pressed against a metal plate, according to the Financial Times. The technician later died from the injuries.

Volkswagen normally keeps these types of machines in cages to prevent accidents but the man killed was working inside the cage at the time of the incident. The other technician outside the cage was not harmed.

According to Fortune:

Volkswagen announced last October that it was planning to replace some retiring Baby Boomers with robots which are much more cost effective, though the automotive industry has long turned to robotics for certain uses.

German news agency dpa reported that prosecutors were still deciding whether to bring out charges and if they did, whom they would be against.