Robots Attack! Tesla Engineer Injured After Robot Reportedly Pinned Him to Wall With Its Claws

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Dec. 28 2023, Published 11:28 a.m. ET

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, wearing an all-black outfit and black cowboy hat, throws his arms in the air in front of a crowd at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand opening in April 2022 in Austin, Texas.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • An incident report shows an engineer at Tesla's Texas-based headquarters was allegedly attacked in 2021 by a malfunctioning KUKA robot arm.
  • The robot, which was designed to be powerful enough to cut through aluminum to make car parts, pinned the engineer against the wall, resulting in blood being drawn from both his back and arm.
  • Tesla's Giga Texas factory is home to an injury rate of 1-in-21 workers in 2022, an alarming rate that is much higher than the industry standard of 1-in-30 workers.
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Fresh off the heels of another round of controversy for his support of antisemitic rhetoric on X (formerly Twitter), Elon Musk is once more making headlines and receiving scorn from the public after reports surfaced that a rogue robot in Tesla's Texas-based headquarters pinned an engineer against the wall with its claw, leaving a bloody trail in its wake, per original reporting from The Information.

Tesla, known to underreport environmental data as well as misrepresent — or entirely leave off — worker injuries in its workplace reports, per the Los Angeles Times, moved its gigafactory headquarters to Texas in 2021. The company has since been home to numerous injuries and workplace hazards as a result of an unquenchable thirst for faster production.

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Tesla's Optimus humanoid robot, seen on display during the 2023 China International Fair for Trade Services in September 2023, was not the robot responsible for the reported attack of a Tesla engineer.
Source: Getty Images

Elon Musk's Tesla robots: a primer.

Per Electrek, KUKA's robotic arms and FANUC-brand robots are favorites among Tesla's production lines. But it was a since-updated Daily Mail report that used a picture of a different robot may have led to confusion among readers and anger by Musk for potentially implying that it was a Tesla Bot or Optimus that caused the attack.

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Tesla's Texas gigafactory employs an army of robotic arms from KUKA, among other brands, per additional reporting from Electrek. It was a KUKA-brand robotic arm, designed to cut through aluminum, responsible for the attack upon the engineer, according to the New York Post.

Musk and his throngs of fans immediately went on the defensive, slamming the media and claiming the Daily Mail report misrepresented the nature of the incident.

Per Live Science, Musk has ramped up the hype machine for the Optimus Gen-2 humanoid robot. Any negative press linking any Tesla robotics to injuries and fatalities threatens to sabotage its profitability.

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A KUKA-brand robotic arm, similar to the one seen here at Messe München at Automatica 2023, is responsible for an attack at a Tesla factory.
Source: Getty Images

Elon Musk's Tesla robot allegedly attacked an employee.

In 2021, an employee of Tesla was allegedly attacked by a robot, however, the incident report did not surface until December 2023.

Although two of the three robots the Tesla engineer was working on at the time were disabled, the culprit in the attack was mistakenly left on, per Sky News. The engineer fell down a scrap metal chute after managing to break free from the robot's claws, "leaving a trail of blood behind him," according to witnesses.

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Tesla has a significant history of worker injuries.

The Information reported that many past and present Tesla factory workers claimed that Tesla habitually engaged in unsafe practices that placed employees at risk.

The New York Post reported production line workers have been victimized by heavy machinery falling upon them as well as workers becoming sick after exposure to ammonia.

Also according to the New York Post, a molten aluminum explosion in January 2023 left workers with an unknown number of injuries due to Tesla's failing to submit the requisite information to safety inspectors.

Additional reporting from the Associated Press revealed a China-based Tesla factory worker was crushed to death in February 2023, the details of which Tesla sought to suppress.

Additionally, Business Insider confirmed three dozen injuries went unreported to California authorities, as Tesla made unsubstantiated claims that regulators praised their record-keeping and injury reporting practices.

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