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Marty the Stop & Shop robot celebrates first birthday amid murder trial [Updated]

Marty interacts with Stop & Shop customers.
Marty interacts with Stop & Shop customers.
Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe (Getty Images)

Update, January 27, 2020: All hail the bravest birthday bot on the Eastern Seaboard. According to Boston ABC affiliate WCVB, grocery chain Stop & Shop threw an in-store party on Saturday to celebrate one year with the robot who glides through the aisles, industriously stocking shelves. Marty was, of course, outfitted in a tiny party hat and a birthday badge, and employees served birthday cake to customers beneath a sea of birthday balloons.

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But what makes Marty brave, as WCVB fails to mention here, is that the bot soldiered on with these birthday plans despite being a potential witness in an ongoing murder investigation. While neither Stop & Shop nor Connecticut police has commented on whether Marty’s camera will be accessed to verify the murder suspect’s alibi, The Takeout can confirm that the robot maintained an impassive expression throughout the birthday proceedings, like it was any other day at work.

Original post, January 24, 2020: Do you have plans this Saturday around midday? Cancel ’em. We’re all going to our nearest Stop & Shop to celebrate the first birthday of Marty, a revered employee of the northeast grocery chain. Like most Aquarians, Marty is a robot. Unlike most grocery store employees, Marty could be a key witness in an ongoing murder investigation.

If you haven’t met Marty, he’s essentially a 6’3” Roomba with googly eyes, which I think is good and normal. Marty tells human employees about spills and/or hazards in the store. According to Marty’s website (way to get on top of your personal branding, Marty!) the robot spots about 40 spills/hazards each day. He insists he does not replace human employees, and also that he doesn’t follow people around the store, both of which are fair questions to ask of Marty. He’s also bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English, which is quite impressive for a one-year-old.

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But justice never takes a day off—not even for bilingual toddlers’ birthday parties. Business Insider reports that Marty could be a key witness in a murder trial. A Connecticut woman charged with conspiracy to commit murder says at the time of the crime, she was at Stop & Shop taking selfies with Marty. Now, Marty’s website says that while he has cameras, he doesn’t record video; the grocery chain did not comment on whether Marty could possibly corroborate the alibi.

All of this is to say that Marty’s got a lot going on right now. If you have the time to stop by Marty’s birthday thing, please do so. And while you’re there, remind Marty that the truth will set him free.

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Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

They have these at Giant* stores, too. I like it, although it’s a bit disconcerting to turn a corner or look up from your list and be face-to-slab with a potential Dalek.

*At least Giant (PA). Haven’t seen any in Giant (MD) yet.