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These Googly-Eyed Robots Could Be Coming to a Grocery Aisle Near You. Here’s What They Do

If you shop at Giant Food Stores you might encounter something a little unexpected next time you shop: a robot.

After a pilot program by Ahold Delhaize USA services company Retail Business Services, Giant, and Jabil subsidiary Badger Technologies in Pennsylvania, the grocery chain is starting to roll out an autonomous robot named Marty. He’ll work long hours with one mission in mind—to keep the store aisles safe.

“Bringing robotics and A.I. 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,” said Nicholas Bertram, president of Giant Food Stores. “Our associates have worked hard to bring this innovation to life with amazing partners.”

A message on the back of the robot reads, “This store is monitored by Marty for your safety. Marty is an autonomous robot that uses image capturing technology to report spills, debris and other potential hazards to store employees to improve your shopping experience,” The Washington Post reports.

Marty is expected to make an appearance at all of Giant Food Stores’ 172 locations across Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The robots are expected to arrive in “waves” with every store receiving its own Marty within the next six months.

 

Marty himself won’t do any of the cleaning—that job will still be handled by human employees. Instead, he’ll page employees when he detects an issue. While he’s rolling through the aisles, he’ll also be on the lookout for out-of-stock items.

And he’s not the only robot headed to a store near you. Walmart recently announced plans to deploy floor-scrubbing robots in a number of its stores. It has also tested robots in stores to monitor inventory.