Incompetence Makes Store Fire First UK Robot Shop Assistant
The United Kingdom’s first robot shop assistant, Fabio, has been fired after a week on the allegations of incompetence according to The Telegraph. According to Elene Margiotta who runs the family-owned Margiotta Supermarket where the robot was hired, Fabio did not perform up to the standard they had hoped for.
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The Robot, Fabio, was produced by a Japanese company called Softbank and was just recently employed as a retail assistant at the supermarket located in Edinburgh, Scotland. Fabio is a part of an experiment being run by the Heriot-Watt University for the BBC documentary Six Robots & Us.
According to Elena, “We thought a robot was a great addition to show the customers that we are always wanting to do something new and exciting. Unfortunately, Fabio didn’t perform as well as we had hoped. People seemed to be actually avoiding him.”
Reports also disclosed that the robot failed to assist customers in purchasing goods from the store. Instead of taking the customer to the location for a beer, he would just tell them that the beer could be found “in the alcohol section.” He was consequently demoted to offer food samples to customers but also failed to compete with his other human employees.
“Conversations didn’t always go well. An issue we had was the movement limitations of the robot, It was not able to move around the shop and direct customers to the items they were looking for,” Margiotta said.
However, the researchers seem to have found something intriguing about Fabio as he proved to be popular with other employees at the supermarket. According to the Director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt, Dr Oliver Lemon, “One of the things we didn’t expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to it.
“It was good in a way because we thought the opposite would happen and they would feel threatened by it because it was competing for their job,” he said.