It is the first accident of this type that is known within the world of chess. Robotic arms have been used in tournaments for years, but to date there has been no such obvious health issue for human opponents.
This is what has happened during the Moscow Chess Open, a tournament held last week in Russia. According to The Guardian, during this tournament a chess player robot grabbed and broke his opponent’s fingera seven-year-old boy who was participating in the competition.
If it doesn’t touch you, don’t get in the way
The events have been described by Sergey Lazarev, president of the Russian chess federation. As he describes to the Russian news agency TASS: “The robot broke the child’s finger. This, of course, is bad.” The robotic arm in question was hired to fight against other competitors. The model is usually used in other tournaments and its main characteristic is that can simultaneously move pieces on three different boards.
Lazarev exempts organizations from blame. The accident can be seen on video and apparently there was no anomaly. The point is that the boy made his move; then the robot was going to do its thing, but the boy anticipated with bad luck that the robotic arm was going to move a piece that coincided with the position of his opponent. Because of this, the robotic arm grabbed the boy’s finger.
Problems with robots are quite common, especially when they are not directly supervised. These arms can “understand” the board, but they don’t have anything else. Therefore, when the child stepped forward, the robot just kept doing its job.
“There are certain safety rules and the boy apparently broke them. When he made his move, the robot didn’t realize that he had to wait first,” explains Sergey Smaging, vice president of the Russian chess federation.
The chess-player robot was only programmed to understand the chess pieces, but not to identify a possible wrong or misplaced move by its human opponent. This accident highlights the importance of implementing additional safety measures in robots, especially when they are or participate in tasks with humans. No ya say kids.
Fortunately the child’s injury was minor. “Robot operators, it seems, will have to think about strengthening protection so that this situation does not happen again,” they say from the Russian federation. We hope that the necessary protection measures for robots will be increasingly taken into account.
Image | robogames 2017