Supermarket Robot Got Fired For Doing a Terrible Job

Fabio offered hugs and high fives

Fabio offered hugs and high fives

When Fabio arrived at the Edinburgh flagship store, bright-eyed and ready for work, customers initially found him a delightful novelty - even if it didn't appear that the robot had read the HR handbook on customer relations, greeting customers with a cheeky "hello gorgeous" and offering hugs aplenty. However, Fabio was laid off after only a week of work for giving unhelpful advice such as "it's in the alcohol section" when asked where to find beer and because he had difficulty understanding shoppers' requests over the background noise.

Banished to an aisle where it was only allowed to offer samples of pulled pork, Fabio started to alarm customers, who went out of their way to avoid it. Fabio shifted an average of two samples every 15 minutes - ten less than a human worker would.

But it was not to be, and the shop owners joy soon turned to disappointed when they realised that Fabio wasn't actually much cop at his job.

"In actual fact they thought it was an enhancement because it was able to deal with frequent and boring requests, like customers constantly asking where things are, which I think they found quite helpful".

She said: "Conversations didn't always go well".

"An issue we had was the movement limitations of the robot".

If you now are slightly anxious about losing your job to a bot, then Dr Lemon has this to say, too: "Robots will never fully replace humans because there are some human judgements robots will never be able to make but they will replace some functions. Instead it just gave a general location, for example, "cheese is in the fridges", which was not very helpful".

So, Luisa was left with no other option but than to give Fabs his marching orders; when she told him they would have to let him go, Fabio asked: "Are you angry?" According to reports, staff members were reduced to tears when they were informed that Fabio's services were no longer required.

Dr Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt, says he was surprised by the reaction his invention got.

"When we had to pack it up and put it back in the box one of them started crying because they had become emotionally attached to it".

The results are very unexpected, Dr. Lemon admitting he was expecting people working with Fabio to "feel threatened by it because it was competing for their job".

There have always been fears that robots may one day take over the world. She explains that "customers love a personal interaction" and speaking (which Fabio wasn't that silky-smooth at) is a bit part of that experience.

"Our staff members know our regulars very well and can have conversations on a daily a basis, and I doubt robots would be able to fulfil this".

'It is possible, I believe, that robots could assist with roles such as warehouse-based tasks, but I doubt they will ever eliminate the need for human interaction'.

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