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Artículo This robot was hired in an upmarket shop but was fired after just one week on the job Culture


This robot was hired in an upmarket shop but was fired after just one week on the job



Fabio didn't perform as well as first hoped, but he did become a much-loved member of staff

Anna Freeman

23 Enero 2018 12:36

If you were scared that robots were coming to take your jobs, you may have no reason to fear...well, yet.

An experiment in Scotland has proven that humanity may well triumph over machines after all. Fabio, the first robot shop assistant ever to be employed was fired after just one week on the job.

The ‘ShopBot’ was developed by by Heriot-Watt University and attempted to fulfil his worldly duties at an upmarket store Margiotta in Edinburgh. He seemed to be doing well at first, greeting people warmly and calling them ‘gorgeous’.

However, Fabio shortly became more of a hindrance than a helper, annoying and confusing shoppers by his vague and sometimes nonsensical answers to simple questions.

Offering advice was clearly out of Fabio’s abilities, so he was moved to a food sampling station. This also proved a task too hard. The robot became too excited about handing out portions of pulled pork, alarming customers and making them flee from him.

‘We thought a robot was a great addition to show the customers that we are always wanting to do something new and exciting,’ said Elena Margiotta, who runs the chain of shops with father Franco and sister Luisa.

‘Unfortunately Fabio didn’t perform as well as we had hoped. People seemed to be actually avoiding him.’

Bosses at Margiotta had no other choice but to let Fabio go. After he was told that his contract wouldn’t be renewed, he replied: Are you angry?’, which elicited an emotional response from staff members, with some even shedding a tear when the robot was packed away and sent back.

Dr Oliver Lemon, director of the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt, said he was surprised by the reaction his invention got.

‘One of things we didn’t expect was the people working in the shop became quite attached to it. 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,’ he said.