Jun. 19--At first, shopper Darrell Reitz didn't know what to make of Marty, the robot that beeps its way around Stop & Shop in Brick.
But she found out that Marty spends its time searching for spills and slip hazards. Now she thinks Marty is, well, pretty great.
"Every aisle I go up, I see Marty, and, I don't know, I just like him," Reitz said. "I get a kick out of him."
Earlier this year, Stop & Shop and its sister stores, Giant and Martin's, deployed nearly 500 autonomous robots to its grocery stores. In a statement announcing the move, it was hailed as "one of the most significant deployments of robotics innovation in the grocery retail industry."
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You'll find Marty at 40 Stop & Shop stores around New Jersey, from Sparta, Hackensack, Wayne and Flemington to East Brunswick, Middletown and Toms River.
Marty, a tall, gray beeping machine with googly eyes and a smile on a base with wheels, slowly rolls around from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, seven days a week. It has sensors so it learns the store's layout and can evade shoppers and carts that are on the move.
It doesn't have a video camera and doesn't take pictures of customers.
Its camera only takes a picture of a hazard it finds on the floor, such as a liquid or sugar spill. It can detect something as small as a twist tie, said Scott Jordan, store manager of Stop & Shop in Brick. "It is really cool technology."
If something is found, Marty stops and flashes yellow. "It will announce caution," Jordan said.
"It is kind of like a big cone," Jordan said. "It will alert everyone around it there is a hazard there."
It also will make an announcement for a store associate that there's a clean-up needed. Afterward, the store associate resets the robot and it continues its tour of the store.
Watch the video at the top of this story to see Marty in action.
"This frees up the associates to assist customers in the store," Jordan said. "It has been very well received."
Other retailers are using robotic technology too. Some Walmart stores have an autonomous floor scrubber to clean the store's concrete floors. Earlier this year, the company announced it will have the machines in six stores in New Jersey in 2019.
The LoweBot at Lowe's stores in San Francisco helps customers with simple questions and provides the store with real time inventory monitoring.
At Stop & Shop, Marty only has one job: checking the floors for spills and other hazards.
"Marty doesn't perform any other functions at the moment," a Stop & Shop spokeswoman said in an email. No other store technologies are planned, she added.
This article is written by David P. Willis from Asbury Park Press and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.