Giant supermarket testing shelf-scanning robot in Pennsylvania store

Shoppers at the Giant Food Store on Union Deposit Road in Lower Paxton Township may have noticed an unexpected guest roving the aisles.

Meet Marty.

The slender gray robot with googly eyes maneuvers freely around the store. Some shoppers give the machine quizzical looks; others snap selfies with the robot.

He looks futuristic but friendly.

“That’s really nifty,” said Kala Dowdrick of Dauphin, who was shopping in the store’s produce section. “I was like, ‘What does that actually do?”

The robot is part of a test program by Giant Food Stores’ parent company, Ahold USA, which oversees Stop & Shops and Giants in Landover, among other chains. It is being developed by Badger Technologies in Lexington, Kentucky.

Nationwide, other retailers including Target, Amazon and Wal-Mart have been testing and/or using robots.

“We recognize an opportunity to have a robot that could give us an assistance in the building to our associates. The robot can’t do the work of the associates but he can report out information and data to us that is a value, not only to us as a business, but to our customers,” said Patrick Maturo, manager of store optimization for Ahold USA.

Marty makes his trek around the store multiple times a day. He starts in the beer and wine cafe, winds his way through produce and over to the meat department.