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Grocery robots detect spills - with some far-off human help

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A wheeled robot named Marty is rolling into nearly 500 grocery stores to alert employees if it encounters spilled granola, squashed tomatoes or a broken jar of mayonnaise.

But there could be a human watching from behind its cartoonish googly eyes.

Badger Technologies CEO Tim Rowland says its camera-equipped robots stop after detecting a potential spill. But to make sure, humans working in a control centre in the Philippines review the imagery before triggering a cleanup message over the loudspeaker.

Rowland says 25 of the robots are now operating at certain Giant, Martin’s and Stop & Shop stores, with 30 more arriving each week.

It’s not the only robot that U.S. shoppers might spot this year. Walmart and Midwestern supermarket chain Schnucks have deployed robots that help monitor inventory.

The Associated Press