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Fabio the Grocery Store Robot Gets Fired for Gross Misconduct

Robots can be unhelpful jerks, too.

Fabio the Grocery Store Robot Gets Fired for Gross Misconduct
ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images, Twitter: @IFLScience

As companies look for ways to cut down on expenses and improve the customer experience, many are now starting to experiment with hiring robot employees.

But, as one Scottish grocery store recently found out, perhaps artificial intelligence isn't as smart as it should be.

Fabio, a robot developed by Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, was recently hired at Margiotta, a Scottish supermarket, to help out its customers. The trial run for Fabio has been documented by the BBC show Six Robots and Us, and as viewers recently witnessed, it didn't go so well.

While Fabio would often greet customers with a friendly "hello gorgeous" or a high-five, that's where his appeal ended. When asked questions about where to find specific products, instead of giving a specific aisle, he would give generic, unhelpful responses. For example, when asked where the cheese was, Fabio would respond, "cheese is in the fridges," or when asked where beer was, he would say it "is in the alcohol section."

No duh.


To top it all off, when Fabio was tasked with handing out sausage samples, customers actually went out of their way to avoid him. The grocery store found that a human employee handing out sausages averaged 12 customers every 15 minutes, compares to two customers for Fabio in that same timespan.

But here comes the heartbreak.

When told he was being fired, poor Fabio asked, "Are you angry?" And a fellow human employee actually cried when the little robot was being packed up.

Aaaand now we're ugly crying.


The reaction came as a bit of shock to Dr. Oliver Lemon, who heads the Interaction Lab at the university. "One of things we didn't expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to it," he admitted.

And even just in the span of reading the story, Twitter was equally attached and heartbroken:

At the same time, they had to laugh:

We've all been there, Fabio. You'll get 'em next time:

H/T: IFLScience, Twitter