Meet The New Greeter At Your Local Grocery Store — A Giant Robot

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Alec Schemmel Contributor
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Giant Food Stores announced Monday it will be introducing “Marty,” a robotic assistant, into 172 of its stores across four states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

The announcement comes as part of a plan by Giant’s Dutch parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, to introduce approximately 500 robots into its stores, which include Giant, Martin’s and Stop & Shop, The Washington Post reported.

The rising demand for convenience in the grocery store industry has sparked the testing of artificial intelligence technologies in order to improve the shopping experience for customers. Other retailers such as Target, Amazon and Walmart have either been testing or are currently using AI to improve their customer experience. Walmart announced plans to utilize 360 autonomous robots in stores across the country by the end of January.

Nicholas Bertram, president of Giant Food Stores, boasted an excited response from customers at its pilot locations. “Bringing robotics and AI from a research lab to the sales floor has been a very exciting journey, and we were thrilled by the customer response in our pilot stores,” said Bertram.

“We recognize an opportunity to have a robot that could give us an assistance in the building to our associates. The robot can’t do the work of the associates but he can report out information and data to us that is a value, not only to us as a business, but to our customers,” Patrick Maturo, manager of store optimization for Ahold USA, told PennLive.

Powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, Marty moves around the store autonomously using image capturing technology to relay useful data back to store associates and customers. “Marty does not replace our associates – instead, he allows members of our team to spend more time engaging with and assisting customers,” Ashley Flower, a spokeswoman for Giant, told PennLive.

Approximately 50 percent of current work activities are technically automatable by adapting currently demonstrated technologies, according to a January 2017 report by the McKinsey Global Institute. The report assessed the different jobs that could be created through 2030, and compared that to the jobs that could be lost from automation. (RELATED: Artificial Intelligence Experts Promise Not To Build Autonomous Machines That Can Kill Everyone)

The impact of automation varies based on a nation’s income level, wage rates, demographics and industry structure. Generally, those occupations requiring only a secondary education, or less, will see a net decline from automation, while those occupations requiring college degrees and higher will grow, according to the MGI report. Furthermore, the report indicated that workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, like managing workers and communicating with others.

The MGI report also noted that basic economics of labor supply and demand indicate wages may stagnate or fall for occupations in which labor demand declines. As a result, the necessary skills and capabilities required within the job market are changing, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities.

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