HELLERTOWN, Pa. — If you've spent any time shopping at a GIANT Food Store recently, you're undoubtedly familiar with Marty, the grocery store chain's robot assistant.
Since 2019, Marty has steadfastly patrolled the aisles of GIANT stores across the Mid-Atlantic, helpfully pointing out spilled liquids and other hazards for its human coworkers to address. Marty's trademark googly eyes are sharp.
But Marty's existence has always focused on the world inside the walls of its assigned store. It hasn't shown much interest in the outside world.
Not, at least, until now.
A Northampton County grocery shopper recently posted a video on Facebook that showed Marty apparently making a run for it. The robot was seen roaming around the Lehigh Valley GIANT's parking lot before its human coworkers ended its short-lived bid for freedom and escorted it back inside.
The 15-second video has garnered more than 509,000 views, 580,000 likes, and 230,000 comments since it was posted three days ago.
Most of the commentary has been supportive of Marty's run for freedom, though one commenter seemed to be thinking along "Terminator: Judgement Day" lines.
"Now that this Marty knows that the universe extends beyond the doors of the Hellertown Giant, he's going to communicate this knowledge with the other Martys and together they will begin to plot our downfall," he wrote. "We need to prepare for this people!"
The Marty robot program began in 2018, when GIANT rolled out robots at its stores on Union Deposit Road in Harrisburg and Spring Garden Street in Carlisle.
Part of a partnership between GIANT, Ahold Delhaize USA services company Retail Business Services, and Jabil subsidiary Badger Technologies, the robots soon took over all of GIANT's 170-plus store locations after a successful start in Central PA.
“Bringing robotics and A.I. from a research lab to the sales floor has been a very exciting journey, and we were thrilled by the customer response in our pilot stores,” said Nicholas Bertram, president, GIANT Food Stores, back in 2019. “Our associates have worked hard to bring this innovation to life with amazing partners.”
FOX43 has reached out to GIANT for comment on how and why Marty made a run for it in Hellertown.