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Posted: March 16, 2017

Rogue robot kills worker, husband sues companies that made the automation

File photo
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
File photo

By Natalie Dreier

Cox Media Group National Content Desk

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —

A Michigan husband and father is trying to hold the people who designed and built a robot that ended up killing his wife responsible for her death.

Wanda Holbrook was killed after a robot malfunctioned and its arm hit her in the head, crushing her skull and killing her, The Detroit Free Press reported.

The accident happened in 2015, but her husband Bill Holbrook recently filed a lawsuit against five companies that he said contributed to his wife's death.

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Holbrook claims there was negligence by the companies that designed, built, tested and kept track of the automated workforce, according to the Free Press.

The lawsuit claims that the robot's arm entered the section Wanda Holbrook was working in, taking her by surprise, and hit her head, crushing it against a hitch assembly the equipment was trying to place.

It happened at a company called Ventra Ionia which welds and stamps truck bumpers and trailer hitches.

The robot was from section 130 but was found in section 140, an area the lawsuit said that it should not have entered.

Named in the suit are:

  • Lincoln Electric Co. based in Ohio
  • Flex-N-Gate based in Delaware
  • Prodomax Automation based in Canada
  • FANUC America Corp based in Rochester Hills, Michigan
  • Nachi Robotic Systems based in Novi, Michigan.

The company where the accident happened, Ventra Ionia, was not named in the suit.

Read more here.


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