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Will robots prevent slip-and-falls in grocery stores?

A robot named Marty could keep grocery store patrons safer. Badger Hills Technologies has rolled out wheeled robots that are equipped with cameras to detect grocery store spills.

The robots are now operating at select Giant, Martin and Stop & Shop stores. Stop & Shop has more than 400 stores in New York, New England and New Jersey. The Pennsylvania-based Giant grocery store hopes to expand their use of the robots to all its stores by the middle of the year.

Robots use cameras to catch spills

The robots use laser-based sensors to move around and to prompt a stop when encountering a customer or grocery cart. Though Martys have googly eyes, those are just for show. Each robot has eight cameras that allow it to spot spills.

Human employees verify spills

The camera's images are then relayed to a control center in the Philippines, where people review the footage. After the control center employees have verified a spill, they trigger a cleanup message over the grocery store's loudspeaker.

At a Stop & Shop in Massachusetts, a robot alerted employees about a price tag and a sprig of herbs on the floor. The Marty then returned to the spill and waited for an employee to push a button that acknowledged the spill was cleaned up.

Robots could be used to prevent theft

Badger Technology CEO Tim Rowland said the robots could also be used to keep an eye on grocery stores' inventory. Other retailers like Walmart and grocery store chain Schnucks have also started using robots to monitor their inventory.

According to the National Safety Council, about 9.2 million Americans were treated in the emergency room for fall injuries in 2016. A slip-and-fall can cause a fracture, a head injury or even death.

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