Store Hires Robot To Help Out Customers, Robot Gets Fired For Scaring Customers Away

'Hello gorgeous'. BBC / Six Robots & Us

Having failed to be helpful in locating products and offering free food to customers, the store owners decided not to keep him on. If you're thinking it would at least be easy to fire a robot for gross incompetence, think again. When the store owner let him know of the decision, the inept little store-worker looked up and asked "are you angry?", which is fairly heartbreaking.

When the robot was packed up, one of the store-workers actually started crying, showing just how attached they'd got to Fabio.

“One of things we didn't expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to it," Dr Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt University, said.

“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."

It turns out that the workers liked that Fabio dealt with the more annoying parts of their jobs, such as talking to irritating customers.

“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,” added Lemon. 

The robot was able to deal with requests quite accurately some of the time, which store-workers liked. BBC / Six Robots & Us.

The director believes that within the next two years his team will have robots working in shopping centers, and in the next five years, we'll see robots in airports and hospitals.

“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," Lemon said. "There are a lot of mundane tasks that don’t require human creativity or a human level of sensitivity. A lot of those can be automated.”

Who knows, maybe after 10, 15 years of seeing them in supermarkets, we'll trust them when they hand us some sausage.

The full episode is available on BBC iPlayer for viewers in the UK.

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