An army of robots — all of them named Marty — is coming to some grocery stores in Maryland and Virginia this year.
Giant Food Stores, headquartered in Pennsylvania, will deploy the robots to 172 of its stores to help prevent tripping hazards and clean up spills. Some locations — including in Culpeper, Virginia, and Hagerstown, Maryland — will get the robots.
The plan is for Marty — a tall, gray, boxy robot with big googly eyes — to handle liquid, powder and bulk food item spills and free up time for associates to assist customers.
The robots were tested in a pilot program at two Pennsylvania Giant Food stores, their parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, said in a news release Monday.
"Bringing robotics and A.I. from a research lab to the sales floor has been a very exciting journey, and we were thrilled by the customer response in our pilot stores," Nicholas Bertram, the president of Giant Food Stores, said in a statement. "Our associates have worked hard to bring this innovation to life with amazing partners."
Marty is set to arrive in waves and be at all stores owned by Ahold Delhaize USA by mid-2019.
Six stores in Maryland will receive a Marty, including locations in Hagerstown, Eldersburg, Lavale and Rising Sun. Nine stores in Virginia will receive a Marty, located in Culpeper, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Stephens City, Waynesboro and Winchester.
Giant Food, a separate grocery chain more commonly known in the D.C. area, is not getting the robots.