Hey, grocery universe: enough with the creepy robots already.

When you first introduced these I thought oh, this might be helpful. Maybe I can ask it where the pomegranate seeds my daughter Mina eternally asks for are located. Maybe it will even walk me there and small talk me along the way in a C-3PO voice. Or perhaps they’d have Inspector Gadget arms that would reach up and pull things from high shelves for little 4-foot-11 women. You know. Something for us.

Nope. Seems to me it’s all about them because the only thing I ever hear of them being used for is to roll around the store tracking inventory on shelves. Another human job the company doesn’t have to pay wages to.

The robots never call out sick, don’t complain, don’t go on breaks, don’t require health coverage.

Marty the Robot
Marty the Robot (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

The robots also annoy us to no end. They get in our way, move too slow, and I’m pretty sure are programmed to steal our souls at the mere press of a button. Also, whose idea was it to add those fake googly eyes some of them sport? We’re supposed to get a human feel from your rolling standup ashtray-looking stalker by the dumb eyes?

Anyway. I have digressed.

More of these are coming to ShopRites around New Jersey. Wakefern Food Corporation, ShopRite’s parent company, did a test run of Tally in some 20 locations. (Tally is what they named the robot. Maybe they should add those fake headlight eyelashes around the fake googly eyes?) Tally apparently had striking results exceeding all expectations.

“After a highly productive pilot, the stores were able to leverage Simbe’s real-time insights to meaningfully reduce out-of-stock rates, maximizing inventory availability and exceeding industry standards,” according to a press release.

The company says Tally the robot stalker (my pet name for it) can scan between 15,000 to 30,000 items per hour and do an entire store thrice daily.

Now this is nothing against ShopRite. They’re one of the stores I go to weekly. Their staff is among the friendliest.

Business Signage
Getty Images

But that robot? Never has much to say and stares at people way too long. Oh, and does it really need to beep? Is that necessary for its own navigation system or is that to warn us that it’s nearby? If it’s to warn us, can’t they just lift “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” from “Midnight Cowboy” and give it some charm?

The company isn’t saying just how many locations or which ShopRites will be getting the inventory robots. All I know is I want to bring a Roomba vacuum in and see if they can battle it out.

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