10 cases with robots that killed people

The development of robotics and automation is certainly necessary for humanity’s transition to a new technological level. But, as in any other hi-tech sector, there are risks. And rate these risks can be very high – your life. We were convinced by the example of recent incident with an unmanned Uber car that killed the pedestrian. The problem is compounded by the fact that the current level of development of AI does not allow soulless machines to quickly and adequately determine the level of risk, and hence to understand whether the person in front of him or the material with which the robot was programmed to work.

An example of the tragedy, which under the wheels of Uber drone killed a woman, is not the only one. For unmanned vehicles is one of the but not for a production environment where people have to work side by side with dangerous machinery every day. In critical situations, when cold steel is faced with living flesh, the latter always remains in loss.

Today we will talk about the ten deaths from the “hands” of robots. Some examples contain very unpleasant details, so before you start to read it, I advise you to remove the screen from the kids. The same if you are a rather nervous person – better close this page and save your nerves. We warned you!

Joshua Brown

Joshua brown was the first person killed in the accident involving an unmanned vehicle. The tragedy happened on 7 may 2016, when moving on the road American town of Williston, the electric Tesla Model S, equipped with a system of self-management could not determine that it is a clear sky, or turning right and 18-wheel freight wagon. Car brown flew under the Central part of the truck like a knife through butter and after a moment came out the other side. Machine cut the roof off the road, went through two fences and then crashed into a pole.

After an internal investigation Tesla said that in the software of the car did not detect any errors, and immediately tried to protect themselves from any charges in this accident. The incident was publicly announced only on 30 June, nearly a month after the accident. In the published report stated that the cars the model S has driven more than 210 million miles and still not had a single accident with a deadly outcome when conventional cars, the average is 150 million kilometers. The company also indicated that the autopilot system of its vehicles at the time of the accident was not perfect (complete), but because the rules clearly demanded from the driver’s constant attention and presence of hands on the steering wheel. During this 37-minute trip brown just 25 seconds removed his hands from the steering wheel. They turned out to be his last in his life.

The investigation of the National Council for transport safety (NTSB) showed that neither brown nor the autopilot system before the collision did not activate the braking system of the vehicle. Airbags electric vehicle did not deploy until then, until the car went off the road and drove through bushes located on private land. Medical examiners said that brown likely died immediately after the car came under the truck.

The truck driver said that brown watched the movie of “Harry Potter” in the time of the accident. Check the NTSB indeed showed the presence of a microSD card with the movie of “Harry Potter”, but she couldn’t tell whether brown was distracted watching a movie on my laptop or Chromebook Asus also discovered in the car.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams became the first person in history to be killed by a robot. The incident occurred at the Ford factory in flat Rock, Michigan on 25 January 1979. Williams died from a robotic arm weighing 1 ton, which struck him when he tried to get a new item produced.

The task of the robotic arm was relaying new parts from one place to another. However, the accumulated error in indicating the incorrect information about the number of parts that were in the rack, forced the Williams to own up the stairs and get the desired item. At this point, the car killed him. The investigation revealed that the cause of death of a person has become very weak safety in the enterprise, including the absence of warning beeps, which would tell the threat the presence of a person. The company paid the victim’s family $ 10 million.

Nine South African soldiers

In the incident that occurred in 2007 and killed nine South African soldiers and another 14 were seriously injured. This time the failure was given by the installation of air defense, which opened uncontrolled fire in all directions. Killer was the automatic computerized anti-aircraft gun Oerlikon GDF-005. It was governed by a system designed to automatically search, capture and attack the enemy without human intervention. The gun even had a system of self-recharge, which in our case could make it more lethal.

The soldiers were training on one of the bases of the Northern Cape province of South Africa, when anti-aircraft gun initially jammed, then, according to witnesses, something exploded, and then the flak opened uncontrolled fire, firing their guns two hundred and fifty 35-mm high-explosive shells at people who were close to him.

Among the alleged causes of “rebellion” anti-aircraft gun was called, and crashing software, and mechanical failure. According to the comments of representatives of some companies involved in the production of weapons, this incident was not the only one, and they have had to deal with similar situations. Just this case was the first when this incident people were killed.

Mika Johnson

July 7, 2016 in the us city of Dallas the shooting occurred with a fatal outcome. On the basis of anger over recent police killings of several black residents, swept wave in various U.S. cities, Micah Johnson shot and killed five policemen and wounded nine more, two of whom were civilians. The first three police officers he murdered around 9 PM, during more peaceful at the time of the protests. After that, he tried to escape to College in El Centro, where at the entrance killed another police officer and took expectant position to kill several police officers.

Over the next five hours, the police unsuccessfully tried to lead with Jones talks, but he did not want to surrender and threatened to blow up a few bombs. Eventually the patience of the police has ended, and the officers offered Johnson two choices: either he surrenders and comes out with raised hands, or stays in, in this case, police ready to use force. The killer decided to choose the second option.

Soon the offender understood what force meant the police, when they put the briquettes of C4 to the robot arm and sent the latter into the underground car Park of the College where I was hiding the killer. Machine “sacrificed” himself, took to hell and Johnson. It was the first time, at least in police practice, when to eliminate the criminal used a robot. The irony in the fact that the robot was intended for mine.

The police prior to this incident, sometimes used robots to disarm criminals. However, in such cases, as a rule, it was about the flashbang and smoke grenades, to the criminal it was possible to take alive. In addition, working with robots trained SWAT and special forces who often have to deal with terrorists. At the same time American troops during the Iraq war used the same tactics of counter-insurgency.

Kenji Of Urada

Kenji of Urada became the second victim of the robot in history, as well as the first and not the only victim, died of a robot arm in Japan. The incident occurred in 1981 at the company’s plant Kawazaki Heavy Industries in the city of Akashi, when Urada made repairs one of the robots. As it turned out, the robot at the right time off was not, but I should have. Mechanical hand pushed the poor engineer in the mill, where a man died. In fact, this is the first case, when the machine killed a man with the help of another machine. To save the poor fellow could not – came to the rescue to the place of tragedy colleagues Kenji just didn’t know how to turn off the crusher.

After many trials, the inspectors concluded that Urada forgot to switch off the equipment – you need a tumbler, he still pulled. However, after that, he accidentally brushed the switch, thereby activating just disabled the device. Judging by the fact that Kenji didn’t stop protective grille which should drop down automatically if the robot is in an enabled mode, a toggle switch was included after Urada climbed over the fence. After the incident, the producers made some conclusions and have further strengthened the protective system of robots.


The tragedy happened in 2015 at the plant of Volkswagen in the German city of Baunatal. Unnamed 21-year-old young man was part of a team of engineers who developed the robot and involved in its installation. Car killed its Creator, that after breaking the chest after grabbed and threw on the metal plate. From the received traumas, incompatible with life, died in the hospital.

Media reported that the killing machine was to be used in production line engines. As it should be for safety, the robot was located inside a protective cage. At the same time, it was the engineer involved in the installation and configuration of the machine. In its statement, Volkswagen suggested that the plant could move to signal another worker who was at the time. Due to the error the robot and killed the unfortunate.

Wanda Holbrook

In July 2015, was unlucky 57-year-old Wanda Holbrook, an employee of the plant, Ventra Ionia Mains in Detroit, producing auto parts (bumpers and trailers for trucks). Factory Holbrook was engaged in the monitoring of faults on lines. Then nobody could not have imagined that the tragic accident suddenly stop her life and of cause, her death would be a failure in the mechanism of the robot, which with its “hands” to break Wanda’s head.

Usually Assembly line at the factory is divided into several sections, each of which are robots involved in their part of the Assembly and presumably not able to reach another section. We say “presumably” because a robot is somehow still did it.

As stated in the report of the Commission investigating this tragedy, “the robot’s hand suddenly grabbed Wanda by reaching the section where she worked. After that, hitting and crushing his head between Wanda’s linkage Assembly, tried to put her head in a special device-clamp”.

Workplace Wanda covers an area of 800 square feet, in which a robot took the bumpers of trucks and welded them with metal plates. In the documents it was written that she worked as if in a cage at the moment when the robot arm has penetrated into its territory and pressed her head to the rebar.

That was an emergency, other staff Ventra noticed only after some normal operations ceased to function in the usual way. It was after that they went to the section of Wanda Holbrook and decided to find out what happened. Holbrook was found by colleagues in an unconscious state and died in 40 minutes after the accident.

The robot arm was actually trying to lay your head Wanda in a special clip for the part, which in itself seemed extremely improbable, because the clamp can’t hold two items at the same time – at the time of the incident detail was already in the clip.

The husband of the deceased filed lawsuits against five companies involved in the production of this robot.

Ana Maria Vital

In 2009, robot palletizing company Golden State Foods factory in an industrial area of Los Angeles has killed 40-year-old Ana Maria Vital. The car was used in the installation process of packing (boxes) pallet (pallet).

At some point, one of the boxes stuck inside the robot, and Mary entered his cell in order to track the package. As the car whole time were included (why do we need safety?), the robot grabbed Ana Maria as one of the packages with which he worked, and then simply crushed her body, despite attempts by the mechanics to release it.

Ramji Lal

In 2015, the 24-year-old Ramji Lal, who worked as a loader metal, was stabbed to death by one of the robots in the factory of the company SKH Metals in the Indian city of Mansa. The task of the robot was to move the welded together metal sheets. One of these sheets was in the wrong position, and Rami tried to correct him. However, it was quick enough, and the robot arm stabbed him with a sharp edge of the sheet in the stomach. It was also reported that he died from the shock.

In fact, Lal did not die immediately. Eyewitnesses of the incident called an ambulance, and the man brought to the hospital, where after 20-30 minutes, he died. The autopsy showed that his ribs and abdomen turned into a real mess, and he died of extensive internal bleeding. No signs of shock pathologists not found. However the police on this, apparently, was his opinion. The official report stated that the cause of death was a fatal electric shock.

Regina Elsa

In June 2016, two weeks before their wedding, from the “hand” robot was killed by Regina Elsa. She was only 20 years old. The accident happened at the factory Ajin USA, which manufactures parts for car companies Hyundai and Kia.

On that fateful day Elsa with colleagues tried to repair the broken robot. In fact, they weren’t supposed to do, but numerous calls to the repair Department have had no effect. There’s just no one was picking up. In the end, their decision to try to repair the robot independently proved fatal to one of the employees. The robot suddenly crashes and very strongly pushed Elsa into another car, causing horrific injuries. The employee of the factory was first taken to medical center of East Alabama, and then sent by helicopter to the trauma center in Birmingham. Unfortunately, the injuries were very serious, and the next morning the girl died.

The incident attracted attention of the authorities. It was found that the factory management Ajin USA, an effort to increase revenue, violated several security protocols. Just two weeks before the incident, the labor Department has advanced the company a claim in the amount of 2.7 million dollars for violation of 27 different safety rules. The audit also showed that employees Ajin USA often processed. Sometimes, the leadership required from them to work 7 days a week and often urged on by yourself to repair broken robots.

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