Marty grocery store robot

Occurred: July 2019

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Marty is a 6-foot-3, 140-pound service robot that detects and alerts managers to spills, scans shelves for out-of-date items, and price discrepancies in over 500 GIANT/MARTIN'S, Stop & Shop and other supermarkets across the USA.

Developed by Badger Technologies, Marty uses embedded cameras and sensors to navigate and avoid customers and store displays and costs approximately USD 35,000.

Reaction

Marty has been met by a mixture of intrigue, amusement, confusion, and incredulity by supermarket shoppers. Some people have taken to social media to express their concerns that they appear to be being watched; others think Marty is weird and creepy.

Marty's introduction has also prompted some supermarket employees to complain that Marty appears to do relatively little, get in the way, and create more work when they go wrong.

Meantime, unionists and employment protection advocates voiced their concerns that Marty and similar robots will replace employee jobs, with some pointing out that Marty's introduction coincided with a major strike over compensation issues.

According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), Marty 'may result in significant cost savings ... with employees spend(ing) hours per day checking for hazards and checking inventory.'

'The impact on workers appears to be small' A3 says, 'since Marty primarily alerts workers to problems. As the technology grows and additional functions are added like stocking shelves, workers may be freed up to perform other tasks, including deploying and maintaining the service robots.'

Transparency

Unionists and civil rights activists worry that Marty can easily be used for additional purposes, thereby putting extra strain on workers and leading to job losses. Per The Counter, Ahold Delieze has informed investors that it is investing in automation and AI to supplement or replace human labour.

'We are partnering on technologies that are not only helping us make the customer experience even more personal and relevant but also operate more efficiently and manage labor shortages in our markets. This includes exciting new collaborations in artificial intelligence and robotics' the company says in its 2018 Annual Report.

Operator: Ahold Delhaize/Stop & Shop; Ahold Delhaize/GIANT/MARTIN'S
Developer:
Badger Technologies

Country: USA

Sector: Retail

Purpose: Improve customer experience

Technology: Robotics; Computer vision; Object recognition
Issue: Appropriateness/need; Dual/multi-use; Privacy; Surveillance; Employment - jobs

Transparency: Governance; Marketing; Privacy

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Published: December 2022