R2D2, we need a price check in aisle 8!

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … I was a kid who loved Star Wars movies and collected Star Wars cards (see inset); the idea of droids who moved on their own and spoke in a language of beeps, such as R2D2 did, seemed pretty futuristic and far-fetched. Fast forward to today, and I’m trying to do some shopping at ShopRite when “Tally” here comes down the aisle, oblivious to all humans, beeping and chirping and turning from side to side, scanning shelf inventory. I should have taken a video, but hopefully you get the idea from my 2 pictures – this 6 foot tall “droid” was just going about his business and doing his job, not unlike R2D2 checking Death Star floor plans or unlocking trash compactor doors.

A little research finds that Tally roams the aisles with several built-in cameras, looking for missing items and products with labels turned inward. When it finds a problem, it sends a message to a human associate and the empty space or misplaced item gets straightened out. It also keeps track of stock levels, so it can check what it is seeing against a database so that it’s not sending a pointless alert. Wow! Can it tell me which chips are on sale?

grocery store droids
“Tally,” the inventory droid at ShopRite.

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