500 robots infiltrate US grocery stores to identify safety hazards

The in-store robots test safety measures like liquid, powder, and bulk food-item spills, according to Retail Business Services.

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Nearly 500 robots are heading to neighborhood grocery stores nationwide thanks to a partnership between Retail Business Services and Badger Technologies, the companies announced Monday. Both GIANT/MARTIN'S and Stop & Shop have agreed to deploy robots in nearly 500 of their stores, after successful pilot runs that improved store safety and efficiency, according to a press release.

SEE: Digital transformation: A guide for CXOs (Tech Pro Research)

The concept of bringing robots to retail has evolved significantly in the past couple years, with cashierless Amazon Go stores paving the way. While some Walmarts have tested shelf-scanning robots in the past, Amazon Go has proven to be the most successful thus far. Amazon's automated grocery stores have already launched in Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco, eliminating the need for cashiers and registers.

E-commerce giants have been huge disruptors for brick and mortar retail, forcing the physical stores to either evolve, or get left behind. In order to stay in the game, stores are undergoing major digital transformations to help improve the customer experience. Between mobilized shopping, the removal of checkout lines, augmented reality (AR), and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the in-person shopping trip is now more personalized than ever.

However, the robots from Retail Business services and Badger Technologies go beyond personalization, focusing more on in-store safety, the release said. "We are excited to be part of this industry-leading rollout of fully autonomous robots that collect safety data while traversing retail stores," Frederic McCoy, senior vice president of, Jabil Retail, said in the release. "Real-time hazard alerts empower stores to resolve incidents like spills, as well as improve operations."

The autonomous robots are able to identify safety hazards such as liquid, powder, and bulk food spills in stores, and then apply corrective actions, according to the release. Associates can now dedicate more time to serving and interacting with customers, while staying safe from prospective injuries.

The deployment of these robots started in late 2018, and will continue into 2019, the release. "Several companies in the grocery retail space have recently begun testing or musing 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, Paul Scorza, executive vice president and CIO for Retail Business Services, said in the release.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Nearly 500 robots are infiltrating brick and mortar grocery stores, improving safety procedures. — GIANT/MARTIN'S and Stop & Shop Brands, 2019
  • The robots can detect spills and take on corrective actions when need be, eliminating danger for humans — GIANT/MARTIN'S and Stop & Shop Brands, 2019

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/Ekkasit919

By Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.