Supermarket chain rolling out more robot workers

Ian Bush
March 11, 2019 - 3:40 pm

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — He puts in 12-hour work days without even taking a paycheck, and the only breaks he takes are to juice up.

What's this employee's secret? He's a robot.

The newest worker at Giant Food Stores in the area is Marty, a 6-foot-2-inch grey robot with light blue googly eyes.

This tall drink of water is designed to spot water, sauce, flour — basically any spill or potential hazard on the ground.

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"Marty will travel to one end of the aisle, look down the aisle, go to the end, and look up the aisle to see if there's anything that potentially could be an issue," said Spence McClaind, manager at the Plymouth Meeting supermarket. "Marty will not move until that issue has been addressed."

But Marty is not intended to replace actual employees on the floor.

"Marty allows us to engage with our customers," McClaind explained.

Marty chirps as it rolls about the store and issues alerts over the store PA system; its sensors and cameras check for problems while avoiding collisions with people.

But some selfie-takers like Liz and her 3-year-old, Mitchell, couldn't resist.

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"We like to say hi to him," Liz said. "(Mitchell) gets so excited. He keeps asking who's inside of him. He thinks that someone's in a costume. And I explain there's no one inside of him, but that he goes around and he keeps everything safe and he helps people in the store." 

Giant is putting Marty in each of its 172 Giant/Martin's stores through the middle of the year.