14:13 GMT05 March 2021
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    Turns out robots won't be taking over the customer service industry anytime soon, folks.

    After spending just a week at Margiotta, a grocery store chain in Scotland, "ShopBot," also known as Fabio the Robot, was handed a pink slip due to "incompetence."

    Deployed as part of an experiment operated by Heriot-Watt University for the BBC's "Six Robots & Us" program, Fabio's time at the supermarket was meant to test whether or not the bot could be integrated with human shoppers.

    Though Fabio initially won over customers with jokes, hugs and even his "hello gorgeous" greeting, things took a turn for the worse when shoppers began to realize that Fabio wasn't that great at actually providing help. When Fabio was asked where the beer or cheese could be found at in the store, he would offer generic responses such as "it's in the alcohol section" or "it's in the fridge."

    Customers also grew more and more upset with Fabio's inability to understand their requests when it got too loud in the store, the International Business Times reported.

    So with Fabio unable to direct traffic in the store, he was ultimately demoted to passing out samples of pulled pork. However, he soon failed in this role, too, after the store owner realized the bot was underperforming when compared to his human counterparts. For every 12 customers that would take a sample from an employee every 15 minutes, Fabio only managed to pass out two.

    "We thought a robot was a great addition to show the customers that we are always wanting to do something new and exciting," Elena Margiotta, who runs the family-owned grocery store chain, told the Telegraph. "Unfortunately Fabio didn't perform as well as we had hoped. People seemed to be actually avoiding him."

    Though most customers were likely glad to see the bot go, not everyone was thrilled about Fabio's departure. According to reports, staff members were reduced to tears when they were informed that Fabio's services were no longer required.

    "One of the things we didn't expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to [Fabio]," Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt, said in a statement. "When we had to pack it up and put it back in the box one of them started crying."

    "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," Lemon added.

    Despite Fabio not working out for the supermarket chain, he may soon end up being redirected to another facility as several other companies are interested in the robot. According to SoftBank, the maker behind Fabio, there are already over 10,000 models in use around the world.


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    Artificial Intelligence, robot, Scotland
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