Robert Williams (robot fatality)

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Robert Williams (c. 1954 – January 25, 1979), a worker at a Ford Motor Company factory in Michigan, was one of the first individuals killed by a robot.[1][2][3] According to press reports:

A jury has ordered the manufacturer of a one-ton robot that killed a worker at a Ford Motor Co. plant to pay the man's family $10 million. The Wayne County Circuit Court jury deliberated for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday before announcing the decision against Unit Handling Systems, a division of Litton Industries. The suit was brought by the family of Robert Williams, who was killed Jan. 25, 1979, at a casting plant in Flat Rock, Mich.[2]

The robot was designed to retrieve parts from storage, but its work was deemed too slow. Williams was retrieving a part from a storage bin when the robot's arm hit him in the head, killing him instantly. In the suit, the family claimed the robot had no safety mechanisms to prevent this, lacking even a warning noise to alert workers the robot was nearby.[1]

Kenji Urada, a Japanese factory worker who died in 1981, is often mistakenly cited as the first person killed by a robot. Williams died two years before Urada.[4][5]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Robot firm liable in death, Tim Kiska, The Oregonian, August 11, 1983.
  2. ^ a b Death on the job: Jury awards $10 million to heirs of man killed by robot at auto plant, Tim Kiska, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 11, 1983.
  3. ^ Death-by-robot yields award of $15 million, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 14, 1984.
  4. ^ Trust me, I'm a robot, The Economist, June 8, 2006; accessed online 6-III-2007.
  5. ^ Smart software helps robots dodge collisions, Duncan Graham-Rowe, article on dated November 3, 2003, accessed 6-III-2007.

[edit] External links

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