When robots have attacked humans – from evil chess robot to car factory crushing

A seven-year-old child is recovering after a chess robot grabbed and broke his finger during a match at the Moscow Open.

The boy apparently made a move too quickly which kickstarted the machine’s safety procedures and prompted the mechanical arm to lash out.

It took several officials to prise the robot off the boy. Sergey Lazarev, president of the Moscow Chess Federation, said: “The robot broke the child’s finger. This is, of course, bad.”

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But it’s not the first time humans have been attacked or even killed by robots.

Car factories packed with killer robots

Car factories have a pretty scary track record when it comes to accidental robot-inflicted deaths.

In Michigan, US, assembly line worker Robert Williams became the first human to be killed by a robot in 1979 when he was hit on the head at a Ford factory in Michigan, US. The machine’s arm slammed him as he was gathering parts in a storage facility, where the robot also retrieved parts, and killed him instantly.

Meanwhile in 1981, Japanese factory worker Kenji Urada was killed when a robot pushed him into a grinder at a Kawasaki plant. The 37-year old failed to turn it off completely while carrying out repairs and it shoved him into the machine with its hydraulic arm.

And in 2015, a giant robot crushed a VW worker to death after pinning him to a metal plate. The 22-year-old victim had stepped inside a safety cage housing the machine at a Volkswagen plant near Frankfurt in Germany. He was hit by the robot, which trapped him and squashed his chest.

That same year, 24-year-old Ramji Lal was working at a car parts factory in India when a robot killed him in 2015. He had been adjusting a metal sheet being welded by the machine when he was stabbed by one of its arms.

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Killer drones, deadly Ubers, and rogue weapons

In 2007, a semi-autonomous anti-aircraft gun jammed and exploded before firing 250 high-explosive rounds at soldiers who were training with it. The weapon had the ability to track targets and reload automatically. It killed nine South African soldiers and wounded 14 more who struggled to get it under control.

A UN report found a drone attacked – and possibly killed – soldiers all on its own. It happened in 2020 in Libya, then in the middle of a civil war. Turkey launched the STM Kargu-2 drone, which hunted down Libyan forces. It was programmed to attack without any input from humans.

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A pedestrian was killed by an Uber self-driving car that hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was crossing the road in Tempe, Arizona, in 2018. The firm halted its testing of the technology following the incident. At the time of the crash it was claimed the car’s “safety driver” was watching TV.

In June 2007, an industrial robot attacked and almost killed a man in Sweden, who was trying to carry out maintenance on a defective machine used to lift rocks. He thought he had cut off power but the bot sprang to life and grabbed his head in a vice grip. He suffered injuries including four broken ribs but survived.


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