Marty the Robot Helps Grocery Store Workers Spot Spills

Giant Food Stores grocery chain in the U.S will have spill spotting robots in all stores by mid-2019.

Employees and at Giant Food Stores in the U.S will be introduced to new colleagues this week. The grocery chain announced it is 'hiring' robot in all stores that will monitor the aisles for spills. 

Marty is a tall wheeled robot that can move around and use image capturing technology, to identify spills and other hazards and alert them to staff and shoppers by announcing them on the store public address system.

The plan to roll out the robots across all stores comes after a pilot program tested Marty in two Pennsylvanian stores last year. 

Robots intended to augment not replace humans

"Bringing robotics and AI from a research lab to the sales floor has been a very exciting journey, and we were thrilled by the customer response in our pilot stores," Nicholas Bertram, president of Giant Food Stores, said in a statement. Marty is equipped with sensors to help him avoid collisions with shelves or people. 

The googly-eyed robot should allow humans to spend more time with customers. Giant Food Stores states the introduction of the robots isn’t meant to replace human workers but rather complement them. The robots should be rolled out across all stores by the middle of the year. 

Marty checks for out of date and mispriced food

In addition to spotting spill, Marty can scan shelves for out of date items. If any are found the robot can generate a report that is sent to appropriate staff. The robot can also check for price discrepancies between ticketed price and barcode price.

Walmart is also introducing robots to all its stores. A step up from Marty, Walmart's robots will actually be able to clean the floor.

They are also testing other kinds of robots that can handle repetitive jobs like the shelf and product scanning. Walmart is using robots from robotics company Bossa Nova. 

These smart assistants can perform tasks like identifying when items are out of stock, locating incorrect prices, and detecting wrong or missing labels.

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Interestingly, the employees of Walmart are the biggest advocates for the robots. Instead of seeing them as a threat to jobs, Walmart employees understand the tasks the robots are doing and appreciate the dull and repetitive tasks being allocated away from themselves. 

Robots becoming increasingly helpful

Surprisingly, human shoppers in stores tend to ignore robots. Expect more and more stores to introduce robotic staff as the technology develops at a rapid pace.

Industry

The Amazon Effect: Amazon Go Stores and The Future of Retail

Amazon has famously embraced robotic workers inside their warehouses but smarter more responsive robots are likely to show up in more retail settings increasingly. A variety of robotics manufacturers is developing robots that can respond to customers' requests. 

One of these is the Airbot by LG. The elongated bot can provide guidance and advice to customers who approach and can scan boarding passes and provide answers about things such as flight status and location of boarding gates.

Correction:

We apologize for our mistake. Giant Food representative sent us more clear information about this article:

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"At this time, there are no plans to bring “Marty” or robotic testing to Giant Food, with our headquarters located in Landover, Maryland. The announcement of “Marty” the robot being set up at Giant is happening only at GIANT FOOD Stores with its headquarters located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, our separate sister company. “Marty” is being deployed at GIANT FOOD Stores to assist store associates in spotting spills and trip hazards and is designed to allow employees to have more time to serve customers. Giant Food of Landover, with locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Delaware is not currently testing “Marty” or other robotic programs."

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