The supermarket chain Giant Food Stores is starting to roll out an 6’3” autonomous robot named Marty whose mission is to keep stores safe. Marty is the result of a partnership between parent company Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch food retailer, and autonomous robot company Badger Technologies. This marks the largest front-of-store deployment of robots in a retail environment.
Marty has a laser-based detection system to guide him through the store. His sole purpose is to identify in-store hazards like spills and trip hazards, so employees can take action faster. While rolling down the aisles, he can also identify out-of-stock items and do price checks. Potential applications for Marty in the future include identifying food that is nearing its expiration date, continuously monitor inventory to forecast supply chain issues and reduce waste, and giving executive teams more in-store visibility to improve operations.
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.”
Giant says customers been more excited than freaked out by Marty. Many are even taking selfies with him as he is beginning to be identified as a brand ambassador for the supermarket. Giant has stated the Marty improves in-store efficiencies and free employees to better serve their customers. Giant plans to bring him to all 172 stores across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia this year.
Why it’s hot: Although I don’t think Marty would fit in so well in a crowded New York City Trader Joe’s, it will be interesting to see how this technology continues to improve in-store experiences and automate worker tasks. As cashiers are continuously replaced with self-checkout options, Marty will fuel even more automation and replacement of jobs in the retail space.