A video posted on social media has unwittingly introduced a robot worker as part of a fleet that Kmart plans to launch in its stores by the end of the year.
The video, by TikToker @riakia82, was shot at a Kmart store in what appears to be Burwood, Melbourne, and has garnered nearly 117,000 views since it was posted.
The short clip shows a tall, pink and white machine rolling through the aisles with a sign that reads: "Hi! I'm Tory! Don't mind me, I'm just counting stock on our shelves. No need to move out of my way... I'll go around you!"
Kmart confirmed in a report by the Daily Mail that the self-navigating robot is one of many that the retailer plans to use to count its inventory through radio frequency identification (RFID) technology "in-store overnight, on a daily basis", to make sure customers get the stock they want, when they want it.
The robot is about the size of an adult with a pink base and is equipped with three white cube-shaped sensors.
The video of Kmart's new robot however drew a mixed bag of reactions from viewers, including some Kmart employees.
"Our Tory gets stuck on everything," another commented, while a third employee expressed shock that it was operating when customers were in the store.
"Wait, yours goes around while customers are in store?! We wait until close!" the Kmart staffer said, to which another replied, "It's a 24 hour store."
"Ours doesn't work, hasn't been spoken about for months now," yet another employee revealed.
Other viewers revealed the urge to press the robot's emergency button or knock it over.
"I wanna press that red button so badddddd or knock it over," one confessed as another commented, "That red button is practically calling to be pressed."
"Ew. Managers will be called every 2 minutes bc someone pressed the button," another chimed.
Rise of the machines
Some viewers were thoroughly unimpressed.
"They won't give real people a job but will get robots," someone commented.
"Whoever had this idea clearly have not watched Superstore," another viewer said in jest.
"The bots are seizing control," joked a third.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.