The impulse aisle in the checkout line has long been the bane of many parents’ grocery shopping trips. While cashiers scan items and parents wait to pay, racks of candy and treats are within arm’s reach of bored kids sitting in carts.
But if you thought tempting kids with treats out checkout was rough, wait until there’s a shiny new robot wandering the grocery aisles, offering up candy.
Mars Wrigley and Wakefern Food Corp. announced last week that they are working with robot company Savioke to deploy a mobile robotic vending kiosk at ShopRite store in Monroe, NY.
According to Kiosk Marketplace, the robot, dubbed “Smiley,” plays music and dances (doing the robot, we assume) (sorry!), while offering up treats and such for sale.
There aren’t a ton of details, such as how many treats Smiley can hold, or the mechanics of how the treats are dispensed and paid for. (We reached out to Mars Wrigley for more information.)
We’ve seen these types of robots before. Self-driving robots can wheel around inside existing retail spaces to act as promotional, err, vehicles, or direct avenues. In China, FANBOT is already scurrying around cinemas, malls and hotels, selling drinks, snacks and more. And Pudutech’s robot, which is basically a series of shelves on wheels, cruise around grocery stores in Japan and the Netherlands, showcasing items that are on sale.
At the risk of tooting my own horn too loudly, automated mobile kiosks was a trend I said to look out for in 2021. So I think we’re going to see a lot more robots roaming store aisles trying to sell us stuff. Maybe their LED faces will need to show a scowl though, to keep the kids away.