Meet the Stop & Shop Robot
By Brent Costantino
Frequent Stop & Shop customer, Karen Swanson, is skeptical of the grocery store’s newest beeping employee.
“I hate this thing,” Swanson said. “I’m sure we will be seeing more of it, but I am certainly not a fan.”
Marty, or as employees call him, Smarty, glides his way around the aisles searching for spills or falling hazards. When the robot detects a hazard, it will blink yellow and repeatedly announce “caution” in English and Spanish.
Not only does Marty alert the customers of hazardous spills, but he announces it to the employees over the intercom that a clean-up is needed.
Current Stop & Shop employees are still adjusting to their new and technical co-worker.
“I don’t like him,” Jesse Rodriguez, a Stop & Shop employee, said. “He’s weird and I feel like he’s always in the way or following me around.”
Marty weighs 140-pounds and stands at 5 feet, 3 inches tall. He costs $35,000, which may seem a bit pricey for a mobile robotic hazard sign.
But Marty offers more than meets the eye.
Marty, designed by Badger Technologies, can also process data through its camera sensors and will increase visibility for store owners of low stock and out-of-stock items. For example, if the Colgate toothpaste runs out on aisle one, Marty can scan past and be able to analyze the lack of inventory. He can then relay the data to store managers through internet connection.
Badger Technologies has also partnered with AT&T to provide the robots with a more private network connection than typical in-store Wi-Fi, according to Badger Technology’s website. The two companies will bring 5G-enabled robots to retail chains nationwide.
“Working with AT&T enables us to better support our retail customers by delivering information faster to increase store efficiencies, improve customer service and boost profits,” said Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies, in a joint press release with AT&T.
“This gives Badger Technologies more control over what data travels beyond the walls of the store and what data stays onsite, which effectively addresses mounting privacy and security concerns among retailers,” according to a statement on the AT&T website.
There were nearly 500 Marty robots deployed to Stop & Shop chains across the U.S. as of January 2019.
“Marty actually frees up time so that our associates can focus on better serving customers - as opposed to consistently scanning the store floor for potential hazards,” said Jennifer Brogan, Stop & Shop director of external communications, when asked if Marty was the corporation’s first step in automizing jobs.
Other retail chains are implementing robotic technology as well including some Walmart chains, which have autonomous scrubbers cleaning the floors, according to Walmart’s official website. Other stores such as Lowes have robots assisting customers with questions, and keeping track of inventory, according to Lowe’s Innovation Lab’s website.