TikTok Isn't Loving Stop & Shop's Wandering Robot

Imagine for a moment that you're walking down the aisle of your local grocery store. You're halfway done your grocery list, but for the life of you, you can't seem to find the bacon. You spot an employee passing your aisle and quickly flag them down and they kindly point you to the right direction. It sounds like a normal scenario, doesn't it? Now, imagine that employee in the shape of a tall rectangle, on wheeled treads instead of feet, a dark grey color, and — this is key — has huge googly eyes and a big plastic grin instead of a face.

Science fiction? It sure sounds like it. But at Stop & Shop, it seems closer to reality than you may think. In 2019, the grocery chain introduced a new robotic employee by the name of "Marty" (via AI Trends). Coming in at 6-foot-4-inches and equipped with everything from navigation systems to sensors, Marty is designed to travel around the store to search for spills and alert employees. Although designed to be less noticeable while customers do their normal shopping, Stop & Shop wants customers to feel safe and comfortable around the monolithic machine. The grocery store even threw a birthday party for Marty to celebrate its first year in stores (via Business Insider). But TikTok isn't so welcoming to Marty or his mechanical brethren for a variety of reasons.

TikTok doesn't think Marty is funny

A TikTok user posted a video of someone walking up to the Stop & Shop robot adorned with a sticker in the shape of a mask. In the joking post, the TikToker filmed Marty and overlaid the video with an audio complaining about a kid throwing eggs in the produce department. Of course, the complaint was sampled from another video and it only appeared that the robot was flipping out. In the comments, some TikTokers either thought the robot was a strange but harmless addition to the grocery store. Others admitted that they have personal problems with Marty.

"Me and that specific robot have literal beef," said one viewer. "If a robot ever started cussing me out I think that might be my last day," said another commentator. "My toxic trait is I wanna push it over and watch it struggle to get back up," a user wrote. 

Indeed, Marty has been a subject of controversy in the world of retail. Some workers see Marty as wasteful and inefficient, referring to it as a "glorified Roomba that doesn't even vacuum"  (via The Counter). Others also see Marty as "creepy" and "stalkerish," according to Mashable, and some customers believe that Marty is nothing more than a mobile camera spying on them as they shop. Some find Marty charming, however, and are pleased to see the electronic employee whenever they go shopping.