Worst robotic accidents in history – after chess robot breaks seven-year-old boy’s finger in Russia

A chess-playing robot (pictured) broke a child's finger during an international tournament in Moscow last week, with the incident being captured in CCTV footage


Shocking footage emerged at the weekend of a chess-playing robot breaking a child’s finger during a match in Russia.

The robot grabbed the seven-year-old boy’s finger at the Moscow Open last week because it was confused by his overly-quick movements, Russian media outlets reported. 

Sergey Lazarev, vice-president of the Russian Chess Federation, said the child had violated ‘certain safety rules’ by making a move too soon. 

Lazarev said that the machine had been hired for many previous events without any problems, and that the incident was an ‘extremely rare case’. 

Christopher Atkeson, a robotics expert at Carnegie Mellon University, told MailOnline: ‘Robots have limited sensing and thus limited awareness of what is going on around them.

‘I suspect the chess robot did not have ears, and that its vision system was blind to anything other than chess boards and pieces.’ 

Although the young chess player only suffered a broken finger, in other accidents involving robots the injured party has not always been as lucky. 

MailOnline has taken a look at some of the disastrous robotic failures, from the robo-surgeon that killed its patient to the driverless car that hit a pedestrian. 

A chess-playing robot (pictured) broke a child's finger during an international tournament in Moscow last week, with the incident being captured in CCTV footage

A chess-playing robot (pictured) broke a child’s finger during an international tournament in Moscow last week, with the incident being captured in CCTV footage 

CHINESE WORKER SKEWERED – WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

One of the most gruesome robo-accidents involved a 49-year-old Chinese factory worker, known as Zhou, back in December 2018. 

Zhou was hit by a rogue robot that collapsed suddenly, impaling him with 10 sharp steel rods in the arm and chest, each one foot long. 

The spikes, which were part of the robotic arm, speared through the worker’s body when the robot collapsed during a night shift.

Four of them were stuck in his right arm, one in his right shoulder, one in his chest and four in his right forearm, reported People’s Daily Online at the time. 

Miraculously, Zhou survived after surgeons removed the rods from his body and was in stable condition, according to the Xiangya Hospital in Changsha. 

Mr Zhou (pictured), 49, was hit by part of a robot that collapsed in China. Four of them were stuck in his right arm, one in his right shoulder, one in his chest and four in his right forearm

Mr Zhou (pictured), 49, was hit by part of a robot that collapsed in China. Four of them were stuck in his right arm, one in his right shoulder, one in his chest and four in his right forearm

SELF-DRIVING FATALITY 

In March 2018, Elaine Herzberg was fatally struck by a prototype self-driving car from ridesharing firm Uber.

Herzberg, 49, was pushing a bicycle across a four-lane road in Tempe, Arizona, when she was struck by the vehicle, which was operating in self-drive mode with a human safety backup driver sitting in the driving seat. 

The Uber engineer in the vehicle, Rafaela Vasquez, was watching videos on her phone, according to reports at the time. 

Herzberg was taken to the local hospital where she died of her injuries – marking the first recorded case of a pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car. 

This photo from video from a mounted camera provided by the Tempe Police Department shows an interior view moments before the Uber vehicle hit a woman in Tempe, Arizona, in March 2018

This photo from video from a mounted camera provided by the Tempe Police Department shows an interior view moments before the Uber vehicle hit a woman in Tempe, Arizona, in March 2018

Vasquez was later charged with negligent homicide, while Uber was found not criminally responsible for the accident. 

The ridesharing giant had been testing self-driving vehicles in four North American cities – Tempe, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto – but these tests were suspended following the accident.

In 2020, Uber sold off its self-driving car division, spelling an end to its attempts to develop autonomous driving systems. 

BOTCHED ROBO-SURGERY 

In February 2015, father-of-three and retired music teacher Stephen Pettitt underwent robotic surgery for Mitral valve disease at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The operation was conducted by surgeon Sukumaran Nair using the Da Vinci surgical robot, which consists of a surgeon’s console and interactive robotic arms controlled from the console. 

Details of the botched six-hour procedure include the surgical team, Mr Nair and assisting surgeon Thasee Pillay, shouting at one another.

The operation using the Da Vinci robot (file image) was the first of its kind conducted in the UK

The operation using the Da Vinci robot (file image) was the first of its kind conducted in the UK

Communication was difficult because of the ‘tinny’ sound quality coming from the robot console being operated by Nair, it was revealed.

The machine also knocked a theatre nurse and destroyed the patient’s stitches, Newcastle Coroner’s Court later heard. 

Mr Nair, who trained in India and London and previously worked at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, said he now works in Scotland and no longer does robotic surgery. 

Sadly, Mr Pettitt had a 98 to 99 per cent chance of living had the operation not been carried out using a robot.

VW WORKER CRUSHED

In June 2015, a 22-year-old man was killed by a robotic arm at a Volkswagen plant in Baunatal, Germany. 

The robotic arm intended to lift machine parts but reportedly grabbed him and crushed him against a large metal plate. 

The man suffered severe injuries to his chest in the incident and resuscitated at the scene, but died from his injuries in hospital. 

A Volkswagen spokesman said initial conclusions indicated human error was to blame rather than a malfunction with the robot, which can be programmed to perform various tasks in the assembly process. 

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In June 2015, a 22-year-old man was killed by a robotic arm at a Volkswagen plant in Baunatal, Germany. The robotic arm intended to lift machine parts but reportedly grabbed him and crushed him against a large metal plate

In June 2015, a 22-year-old man was killed by a robotic arm at a Volkswagen plant in Baunatal, Germany. The robotic arm intended to lift machine parts but reportedly grabbed him and crushed him against a large metal plate

JAPAN’S FIRST ROBO-CASUALTY  

In July 1981, Japanese maintenance worker Kenji Urada died while checking a malfunctioning hydraulic robot at the Kawasaki Heavy Industries plant in Akashi.

Urada, 37, had jumped over a safety barrier that was designed to shut down power to the machine when open, but he reportedly started the robot accidentally.

He was pinned by the robot’s arm against another machine before tragically being crushed to death. 

Other workers in the factory were unable to stop the machine as they didn’t know how to operate it.

Urada was the first human killed by a robot in Japan – but not the first in the world. 

THE FIRST ROBOT DEATH 

The first person to be killed by a robot was Robert Williams, an American factory worker, in Flat Rock, Michigan back in January 1979.  

Williams, 25, was killed instantly when he was struck in the head by an industrial robot arm designed to retrieve objects from storage shelves. 

The first person to be killed by a robot was Robert Williams while working at the Ford Motor Company Flat Rock Casting Plant (pictured here in 1973)

The first person to be killed by a robot was Robert Williams while working at the Ford Motor Company Flat Rock Casting Plant (pictured here in 1973)

His body remained in the shelf for 30 minutes until it was discovered by workers who were concerned about his disappearance, according to reports.  

His family successfully sued the manufacturers of the robot, Litton Industries, and were awarded $10 million in damages. 

Wayne County Circuit Court concluded that there were not enough safety measures in place to prevent such an accident from happening. 

SELF-DRIVING TESLA SLAMS INTO TRACTOR

A former Navy SEAL became the first person to die at the wheel of a self-driving car after it ploughed into a tractor trailer on a freeway in Williston, Florida, in May 2016.

Joshua Brown, 40, was riding in his computer-guided Tesla Model S on autopilot mode when it travelled underneath the low-hanging trailer crossing his path on US Highway 27A, shearing off the car’s roof completely.

By the time firefighters arrived, the wreckage of the Tesla had come to rest in a nearby yard hundreds of feet from the crash site, assistant chief Danny Wallace of the Williston Fire Department said. 

Tesla said its autopilot system failed to detect the truck because its white colour was similar to that of the bright sky, adding that the driver also made no attempt to hit the brakes. 

Elon Musk’s company confirmed the man’s ‘tragic’ death, but defended its vehicles, saying they were safer than other cars. 

Joshua Brown, 40, was riding in his computer-guided Tesla Model S on autopilot mode when it travelled underneath the low-hanging trailer crossing his path on US Highway 27A, shearing off its roof completely

Joshua Brown, 40, was riding in his computer-guided Tesla Model S on autopilot mode when it travelled underneath the low-hanging trailer crossing his path on US Highway 27A, shearing off its roof completely

Brown was killed after his self-driving car drove underneath the low-hanging trailer at 74mph, ripping the roof off before smashing through a fence and hitting an electrical pole Tesla said its autopilot system failed to detect the truck because its white colour was similar to that of the bright sky, adding that the driver also made no attempt to hit the brakes

Brown was killed as the car drove underneath the low-hanging trailer at 74mph, ripping the roof off before smashing through a fence and hitting an electrical pole. Tesla said its autopilot system failed to detect the truck because its white colour was similar to that of the bright sky, adding that the driver also made no attempt to hit the brakes

CRUSHED BY A ROBOT ARM

On July 7 2015, a grandmother was crushed to death when she became trapped by a piece of machinery that should not have entered into the area in which she was working.

Wanda Holbrook was 57 at the time of the incident, and had been working at car manufacturing facility Ventra Ionia Main in Michigan, USA for 12 years.

She was working on the production line when a robotic arm took her by surprise by entering the section in which she was stationed. 

The arm hit and crushed her head against a trailer hitch assembly it was working on, a wrongful death lawsuit states. 

According to The Callahan Law Firm, widower Bill Holbrook said his wife’s head injuries were so severe that the funeral home recommended a closed casket.

On July 7 2015, a grandmother was crushed to death when she became trapped by a piece of machinery that should not have entered into the area in which she was working at at car manufacturing facility Ventra Ionia Main in Michigan, USA (pictured)

On July 7 2015, a grandmother was crushed to death when she became trapped by a piece of machinery that should not have entered into the area in which she was working at at car manufacturing facility Ventra Ionia Main in Michigan, USA (pictured)

Wanda Holbrook was 57 at the time of the incident, and had been working at the car manufacturing facility for 12 years

Wanda Holbrook was 57 at the time of the incident, and had been working at the car manufacturing facility for 12 years

STABBED BY WELDING ROBOT

The first person killed by a robot in India is thought to be 24-year-old Ramji Lal, who was stabbed to death by a robotic welding machine, also in July 2015.

Lal was reportedly adjusting a metal sheet at car parts manufacturer SKH Metals in Manesar, Gurgaon that was being welded by the machine when he was stabbed by one of its arms.

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A colleague told the Times of India: ‘The robot is pre-programmed to weld metal sheets it lifts. 

‘One such sheet got dislodged and Lal reached from behind the machine to adjust it. 

‘This was when welding sticks attached to the pre-programmed device pierced Lal’s abdomen.’

The first person killed by a robot in India is thought to be 24-year-old Ramji Lal, who was stabbed to death by a robotic welding machine, also in July 2015. Lal was reportedly adjusting a metal sheet at car parts manufacturer SKH Metals in Manesar, Gurgaon that was being welded by the machine when he was stabbed by one of its arms (stock image)

The first person killed by a robot in India is thought to be 24-year-old Ramji Lal, who was stabbed to death by a robotic welding machine, also in July 2015. Lal was reportedly adjusting a metal sheet at car parts manufacturer SKH Metals in Manesar, Gurgaon that was being welded by the machine when he was stabbed by one of its arms (stock image)

AMAZON ROBOT PUNCTURES BEAR REPELLENT CAN

In 2018, a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey, hospitalising 24 workers.

The nine-ounce aerosol can contained concentrated capsaicin – the active component found in chilli peppers that makes your mouth feel hot.

Many of the workers experienced trouble breathing and said their throats and eyes burned as a result of the fumes from the pepper spray.

One worker from the Robbinsville-based warehouse was in critical condition and was sent to the ICU at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, while another 30 were treated at the scene.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, issued a statement after the incident saying: ‘Amazon’s automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic and the long-term effects for 80+ workers are unknown,

‘The richest company in the world cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk.’

In 2018, a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent at an Amazon facility in New Jersey, hospitalising 24 workers

In 2018, a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent at an Amazon facility in New Jersey, hospitalising 24 workers

One worker from the Robbinsville-based warehouse was in critical condition and was sent to the ICU at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, while another 30 were treated at the scene (pictured)

One worker from the Robbinsville-based warehouse was in critical condition and was sent to the ICU at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, while another 30 were treated at the scene (pictured)

Josh Bongard, a robotics professor at the University of Vermont, told MailOnline: ‘Robots are kind of the opposite of people. They’re good at things we’re bad at, and vice versa.

‘The good news in all this is that robots will likely kill many fewer people, than people do. Especially here in the US.’

Professor Bongard also said it’s ‘really, really hard’ to train robots to avoid such accidents. 

‘Our best hope at the moment for deploying safe robots is to put them in places where there are few people, like autonomous cars restricted to special lanes on highways.’

WHY ARE PEOPLE SO WORRIED ABOUT ROBOTS AND AI? 

It is an issue troubling some of the greatest minds in the world at the moment, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk described AI as our ‘biggest existential threat’ and likened its development as ‘summoning the demon’.

He believes super intelligent machines could use humans as pets.

Professor Stephen Hawking said it is a ‘near certainty’ that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.

They could steal jobs

More than 60 percent of people fear that robots will lead to there being fewer jobs in the next ten years, according to a 2016 YouGov survey.

And 27 percent predict that it will decrease the number of jobs ‘a lot’ with previous research suggesting admin and service sector workers will be the hardest hit.

As well as posing a threat to our jobs, other experts believe AI could ‘go rogue’ and become too complex for scientists to understand.

A quarter of the respondents predicted robots will become part of everyday life in just 11 to 20 years, with 18 percent predicting this will happen within the next decade.

They could ‘go rogue’

Computer scientist Professor Michael Wooldridge said AI machines could become so intricate that engineers don’t fully understand how they work.

If experts don’t understand how AI algorithms function, they won’t be able to predict when they fail.

This means driverless cars or intelligent robots could make unpredictable ‘out of character’ decisions during critical moments, which could put people in danger.

For instance, the AI behind a driverless car could choose to swerve into pedestrians or crash into barriers instead of deciding to drive sensibly.

They could wipe out humanity

Some people believe AI will wipe out humans completely.

‘Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this,’ DeepMind’s Shane Legg said in a recent interview.

He singled out artificial intelligence, or AI, as the ‘number one risk for this century’.

Musk warned that AI poses more of a threat to humanity than North Korea.

‘If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea,’ the 46-year-old wrote on Twitter.

‘Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too.’

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Musk has consistently advocated for governments and private institutions to apply regulations on AI technology.

He has argued that controls are necessary in order protect machines from advancing out of human control.

When chess robots go bad: AI player grabs a seven-year-old boy and BREAKS his finger during tournament in Russia 

A chess-playing robot broke a child’s finger during a tournament in Russia last week, with the incident being captured in CCTV footage.

The robot grabbed the seven-year-old boy’s finger because it was confused by his overly-quick movements, Russian media outlets reported, quoting the President of the Moscow Chess Federation – who seemingly blamed the child.

‘The robot broke the child’s finger – this, of course, is bad,’ Sergey Lazarev told Russia’s TASS news agency, while distancing his organisation from the robot.

The incident occurred at the Moscow Open on July 19. Lazarev said that the federation had rented the robot for the event, which ran from July 13 to 21.

Lazarev said that the machine had been hired for many previous events without incident, saying the boy went to move a piece too quickly after making a move.

A chess-playing robot (pictured) broke a child's finger during an international tournament in Moscow last week, with the incident being captured in CCTV footage

A chess-playing robot (pictured) broke a child’s finger during an international tournament in Moscow last week, with the incident being captured in CCTV footage

Captured by a camera over the boy's shoulder, the video starts by showing the robot as it picks up a piece from the board and drops it into a box to the side - used to contain the discarded pieces from the game

Captured by a camera over the boy’s shoulder, the video starts by showing the robot as it picks up a piece from the board and drops it into a box to the side – used to contain the discarded pieces from the game

‘The robot was rented by us, it has been exhibited in many places, for a long time, with specialists. Apparently, the operators overlooked it,’ Lazarev said.

‘The child made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried , the robot grabbed him. We have nothing to do with the robot.’

Video of the incident was published by the Baza Telegram channel, who said the boy’s name was Christopher. Baza said he was among the 30 best chess players in Moscow in the under-nine age group category.

According to The Guardian, Sergey Smagin, vice-president of the Russian Chess Federation, went even further in blaming the boy.

‘There are certain safety rules and the child, apparently, violated them. When he made his move, he did not realise he first had to wait,’ The Guardian quoted Smagin as saying. ‘This is an extremely rare case, the first I can recall.’

The footage shows the robot – which consists of a single mechanical arm with multiple joints and a ‘hand’ – was in the middle of a table and surrounded by three different chess boards. It’s AI can reportedly play three matches at the same time.

Captured by a camera over the boy’s shoulder, the video starts by showing the robot as it picks up a piece from the board and drops it into a box to the side – used to contain the discarded pieces from the game.

As it does so, the young boy reaches to make his next move. However, the robot appears to mistake the boy’s finger for a chess piece, and grabs that instead.

Upon grabbing the boy's finger, the mechanical arms freezes in place, trapping the boy who begins to panic. Several people standing around the table rush in to help him, and after a few seconds are able to free him from the robot's grip

Upon grabbing the boy’s finger, the mechanical arms freezes in place, trapping the boy who begins to panic. Several people standing around the table rush in to help him, and after a few seconds are able to free him from the robot’s grip

Pictured: The boy is taken away by adults who were standing around the table. Russian chess officials said the machine had been hired for many previous events without incident, saying the boy went to move a piece too quickly after making a move

Pictured: The boy is taken away by adults who were standing around the table. Russian chess officials said the machine had been hired for many previous events without incident, saying the boy went to move a piece too quickly after making a move

Upon grabbing the boy’s finger, the mechanical arms freezes in place, trapping the boy who begins to panic. Several people standing around the table rush in to help him, and after a few seconds are able to free him from the robot’s grip.

Lazarev said in his statement that the boy was able to return to the tournament the following day in a case, and finished the tournament.

However, he told TASS that the boy’s parents had contacted the public prosecutor’s office about the incident, and that his organisation had been contacted by Moskomsport – the Department of Sport for the Russian capital.

He offered to help the family ‘in any way we can,’ and warned that the operators of the robot were going to have to ‘think about strengthening protection so that this situation does not happen again.’

Smagin told RIA Novosti that the incident was a ‘concidence’ and said the robot is ‘absolutely safe,’ The Guardian reported.

‘It has performed at many opens. Apparently, children need to be warned. It happens,’ Smagin said – calling the robot ‘unique’.



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