TECHNOLOGY

Supermarket giant undertaking one of largest in-store robot rollouts in U.S.

BY Marianne Wilson

Ahold Delhaize is bringing “Marty,” a robot with googly eyes, to more stores — some 500 to be specific.

In one of the nation’s largest in-store robotics programs, Ahold Delhaize USA is deploying robots in nearly 500 of its Giant/Martin’s and Stop & Shop supermarkets following a successful pilot that improved in-store efficiencies and safety, the company said. The initiative reflects a partnership between Ahold’s Retail Business Services unit and robotics provider, Badger Technologies, a division of Jabil.

The deployment, which involves a 7-ft.-tall robot nicknamed “Marty,” is now underway and will continue through the early part of 2019. Meanwhile, other Ahold Delhaize USA brands continue to test with autonomous robots in select stores.

“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,” said Paul Scorza, executive VP and chief information officer for Retail Business Services. “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.”

In the pilot, the robots were easily recognized by customers by their friendly appearance, the retailer said, and were used to identify hazards, such as liquid, powder and bulk food item spills and provide reporting that enables corrective action. The company said the robots helped the stores mitigate risk caused by such spills, and also enabled associates to spend more time interacting with customers.

The robots are equipped with scanners so they do not bump into shoppers or displays. They are powered by rechargeable batters and have several internal cameras.

Retail Business Services, the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, provides services to six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, as well as Peapod.

“We are excited to be part of this industry-leading rollout of fully autonomous robots that collect safety data while traversing retail stores,” said Frederic McCoy, senior VP, Jabil Retail. “Real-time hazard alerts empower stores to resolve incidents like spills, as well as improve operations.”

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