Main image via Interesting Engineering
Scottish University Heriot-Watt developed Fabio, a humanoid robot designed to hold conversations with humans. Fabio works in a similar way like Siri and Alexa.
Image via Interesting Engineering
The developers who created Fabio wanted to test his skills out in real-life situations, and managed to get Margiotta, a Scottish supermarket, to agree to take him on as a meet-and-greet intern. But things didn’t exactly go as planned…
Initially, Fabio seemed to be doing a great job. He was able to say hello to customers as they entered the supermarket, sometimes even going as far as high fiving them or offering a “Hello, gorgeous”.
Unfortunately, it turned out that he didn’t have the work ethic needed in a busy supermarket. While Fabio was happy to chat to customers about the weather and other common topics, if he was asked anything about the store itself, he was suddenly a lot less friendly.
For example, when asked “Where is the cheese?”, he would just say “Aisle three”. Or he would reply with generic remarks like “Cheese is in the fridges”, which isn’t very helpful.
So, since Fabio clearly couldn’t handle being a meet-and-greet intern, he was given a more simple job.
Image via Herald Scotland
Fabio was asked to hand out samples of sausages in the cold food aisle. But, he was even more worse at this than meet-and-greet. Customers saw the idea of a robot handing out samples as a terrifying prospect, and went out of their way to avoid him.
A human employee, given the same task, was able to attract about 12 customers every 15 minutes. Fabio was only able to attract two customers in the same time.
Sadly, that was the last straw for the managers, and Fabio got fired.
Image via Daily Mirror
Hilariously, while Fabio took the news that he was fired quite well, his co-workers were devastated.
Dr Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Hariot-Watt University said that “One of the things we didn’t expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to it. 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.”
Image via Edinburgh Evening News
He then added, “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. 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.”
Article via Interesting Engineering