Woolworths customers baffled by unusual sight in aisle

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·3-min read

A sighting in the aisle of a Woolworths supermarket in Melbourne has baffled hundreds of customers.

A woman posted a video to TikTok of a robot with a smiley face roaming the aisles of the supermarket and wearing an employee badge with the name 'Hawkie'.

"So I just went to my local Woolworths in Melbourne, and they have a robot ... checking for spills and then it just stops whenever there's a spill on the ground," she said.

Once the robot discovers a spill, it warns customers there has been a "hazard detected" and tells customers to stay clear.

"It's even got its own name badge, like, what?" the woman said.

The robot Hawkie in the Melbourne Woolworths store.
The robot spotted in the aisle of the Melbourne supermarket. Source: TikTok/@rutharr1

Hundreds of people commented on the woman's TikTok video surprised by the supermarket giant's new robotic employee, despite Woolworths introducing them to select stores in 2019.

"We have this at my Woolies, please explain," one commented on the video.

"It's cute ... I haven't seen one in person but I would give it a hug," another said.

"It's a good idea, saves people from injury and those who easily sue," a third added.

Others suggested the robot should be able to tell them where certain products are located.

Woolworths trials robots in 15 stores

The trial was launched in 15 stores and Woolworths told Yahoo News Australia in a statement it is ongoing.

They have no impact on jobs and were implemented to scan floors for spills to alert customers and the Woolworths team quickly to ensure their safety.

They're also designed to keep their distance from customers.

"These are the first stages of robots becoming normal in everyday life," one commented on the TikTok video.

In January last year a blind woman criticised Woolworths over a “silly” robot which “stalked” her while she was shopping with her guide dog at a Melbourne supermarket.

The outside of a Woolworths supermarket.
The robots help monitor for spills in some Woolworths supermarkets. Source: Getty

Casey Hyde, who has 10 per cent of her vision, told Yahoo News Australia the robot kept following her down the aisle and repeating the word, “obstruction”.

“It’s designed to find things blocking the aisle and the robot thought [my dog] was an obstruction,” she said.

“It scared the dog and also distracted her.”

She claims the robot followed her throughout the supermarket and believes because her dog was black and weighed about 39kg she might have been mistaken for a bin.

A Woolworths spokesperson said a Woolworths representative had spoken to Ms Hyde about the incident.

“The safety robot is part of a trial designed to improve customer safety and experience in the store, and we're closely monitoring customer feedback on it,” the spokesperson said.

“These robots operate in hundreds of stores across the world and have been subject to extensive safety testing by the manufacturer. They have sensors built in and are programmed to stop or move away from any fixed or moving objects.”

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.