Auto Recalls

A contract worker was busy setting up a robot at a Volkswagen factory in Germany, when the robot grabbed him and fatally crushed him. The robot pressed the man against a metal plate with so much force that he did not survive the incident.

At this time, authorities, safety experts and robot engineers are examining the incident to determine if it was human or robot error that led to the tragic death of the autoplant worker.

The incident happened last week, at a Volkswagen plant in Baunatal, Germany, which is located about 62 miles away from Frankfurt. According to Volkswagen, the 22-year-old worker was a contractor working with a team to configure a stationary robot. That's when the robot went haywire, grasped hold of the man and crushed his body onto the metal plate.

Investigations Are Ongoing

At this time, investigators suspect that the incident was the result of human error, and the robot was functioning normally. The auto-manufacturing robots are programmable and they can be configured to carry out different tasks during the assembly of automobiles. Usually, the robots are confined to one area of a plant and they work to grasp hold of and manipulate different parts.

According to Volkswagen, another contracting employee was present at the time of the accident. That contractor was fortunate to escape the incident unharmed. At this time, Volkswagen is not providing any more information about what happened -- only that it is continuing its investigations and will provide additional details when the investigations are complete.

Unclear Who Might Be Liable for the Accident

According to the German news agency, DPA, prosecutors are currently looking into the possibility of bringing forward a civil lawsuit relating to the worker's death. However, at this time, it is not clear against whom the charges will be filed. Further investigation will no doubt reveal who is liable: Volkswagen, the robot maker, the contracting company, or some other party.