Nearly 500 robots will be hitting the aisles of Giant Food Stores and Stop & Shop supermarkets as part of a partnership between parent Ahold Delhaize’s USA’s Retail Business Services division and Badger Technologies.
The rollout, which Ahold Delhaize officials said was one of the largest such deployments in the U.S., follows a successful pilot program conducted over the past year. The robots—which stand 7 feet tall and are outfitted with googly eyes and a name tag reading “Marty”—are deployed to identify hazards such as liquid, powder and bulk food spills, and they provide reporting that enables corrective action. The company said the tests with Marty improved in-store efficiency and safety, mitigated risk by spills, and allowed associates to spend more time serving and interacting with customers.
Nicholasville, Ky.-based Badger Technologies, a division of Jabil that makes the robots, said they are also capable of performing shelf-scanning and inventory tasks, as well as being able to alert customers to use caution and inform associates when hazards need to be resolved.
A Retail Business Services spokeswoman told WGB that the robots for now will be focused on operations tasks such as monitoring stores for spills, and that additional uses will continue to be evaluated.
“As part of our continued focus on technology transformation, we’re pleased to support one of the most significant deployments of robotics innovation in the grocery retail industry,” Paul Scorza, EVP and chief information officer of Retail Business Services, said in a statement. “Several companies in the grocery retail space have recently begun testing or using in-store robots—something Retail Business Services and the local brands we serve have been doing for some time. We’re pleased to support the Giant/Martin’s and Stop & Shop brands as they now lead the industry from test to large-scale usage of robots and to see the benefits the technology continues to drive for their businesses.”
“We are excited to be part of this industry-leading rollout of fully autonomous robots that collect safety data while traversing retail stores,” added Frederic McCoy, SVP of Jabil Retail. “Real-time hazard alerts empower stores to resolve incidents like spills, as well as improve operations.”
The deployment of robots at Giant and Stop & Shop is now underway and will continue through the early part of 2019. Other Ahold Delhaize USA brands continue to test with autonomous robots in select stores.