In a freaky sci-fi-esque scene that has turned all too real, a Tesla engineer experienced firsthand some very human fears about an automated workforce when they were reportedly injured by a robot at the Texas Gigafactory in 2021.
While the incident took place a couple of years back, it just came to light following eyewitness accounts shared with The Information, with an injury report recently seen by the Daily Mail.
The episode unfolded as the engineer, whose identity remains undisclosed, was conducting routine work on the factory’s robots. Unbeknownst to the worker, while two robots were safely switched off, a third remained active.
The rogue-bot had unexpectedly pinned the engineer against a surface, its mechanical claws inflicting injuries that left a chilling “trail of blood” from his back and arm.
The ordeal ended when a quick-thinking colleague intervened, pressing an emergency stop button to halt the robot’s movements. Despite the rapid response, the engineer sustained notable injuries, including an open wound on their left hand.
Update: CEO Elon Musk has responded to the reports, expressing dismay and criticizing the portrayal of the incident.
Musk took to social media to address the reports, calling it “truly shameful” that the media would dredge up an injury from two years ago due to a simple industrial Kuka robot arm, which is common in factories, and imply that it is related to Tesla’s Optimus robot now.
Musk emphasized that the incident involved a standard industrial robot arm, not the advanced Optimus robots that Tesla is developing. He also highlighted the potential of Optimus robots to bring about a “future of abundance” where poverty is eliminated, and people can have whatever they want in terms of products and services.
With a new era of work taking shape, nightmares like this underscore the need for a balanced approach that weighs the benefits of automation against the safety and ethical considerations of those who work alongside these powerful machines.
The incident serves as a stark reminder that while robots can significantly enhance efficiency and take on tasks deemed dangerous or menial for humans, their integration into the workforce must not overlook the paramount importance of the well-being of human colleagues.