Shoppers hit out at 'creepy' robot roaming Woolworths aisles

Shoppers at Woolworths were not expecting to bump in to the future when they were picking up groceries, and they have mixed feelings over the latest robotic assistant.

“I spot spills so you don’t slip” the safety robot sports on its side as it roams the aisles at the supermarket.

The automatic hazard spotter has been fascinating shoppers in the Gregory Hills location, west of Sydney, for a month and locals have dubbed the robot “Greggles”.

“It roams around the store detecting hazards on the floor and once it has found one, it stops in front of it alerting the customers around it to stand clear” Woolworths customer Amy Bowden told Yahoo News Australia.

Ms Bowden was so curious that she filmed the robot in action and posted it to her local Facebook group.

Shoppers were surprised to see the latest Woolworths employee that beeps as it detects spills around the store. Source: Facebook Amy Bowden

“It detected ‘something’ on the floor near the deli and it stopped in front of it announcing to ‘stand clear there is a hazard’” she posted.

Once a hazard is detected, a staff member is alerted to come and do the dirty work of cleaning up the spill.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo that it’s all in the name of safety.

“We’ve been working hard to reduce trips and slips in our stores, but we still see too many,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re trialling new technology in this store to see if it can help make the store safer for our customers and team.”

But some people don’t think the new technology is a good idea.

“Not a big fan of our new store attendant here, I moved all the way to the little corner and I was still in his way,” one person posted.

Another shopper agreed “Seems creepy and useless.”

“He does not look like a friendly robot from any angle! Those blue angular lights are like nasty squinting eyes silently judging you. I think he needs a redesign.”

"Seems creepy and useless" a person posted. Source: Facebook Amy Bowden

Others have questioned if Woolworths has replaced a human employee with a robotic one “Waste of money put more staff on instead.”

“Disgusting. Hate Self Service! Now you are depleting cleaners. Shame on you Woolworths.”

Some people praised the safety robot “Staff can’t always be there so to have Greggles is a huge help.”

Gregory Hills staff pose with the safety robot. Source: Supplied by Woolworths.

“It’s purpose in store is to alert staff of spills and other hazards to customers.”

One person questioned its effectiveness “How long will it take to get from aisle 1 to 15 to find a spill. 10 people would have already slipped by then.”

Woolworths told Yahoo that for the moment, Greggles is staying put.

“It’s exciting technology for us to trial, but we’ll be very mindful of customer and team member feedback on it. We have no plans to rollout the technology any further at this time.”

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