Blind woman “stalked” by Woolworths robot in supermarket

Blind woman “stalked” by Woolworths robot in supermarket

A blind woman has lashed out at Woolworths over a “silly” robot who “stalked” her while she was shopping with her guide dog at a Melbourne supermarket.

On Tuesday, Casey Hyde took her guide dog Bridget through a Woolworths store when she was confronted by a tall, white robot.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Ms Hyde, who has 10 per cent vision, said the robot kept following her down the aisle as it yelled the word “obstruction”.

“It’s designed to find things blocking the aisle and the robot thought Bridget was an obstruction,” she said.

“It scared the dog and also distracted her.”

She said the robot followed her closely as she walked around the supermarket and believes that because Bridget is black and weighs about 39 kg she may have been mistaken for a bin.

“It was confronting for me – the robot wasn’t helping me feel comfortable,” Ms Hyde said.

She claimed that a stranger helped her complete her shopping because “she could not see if the robot was coming or not”.

The robot, which is called “Greggles” has not been popular amongst shoppers, one of them being Ms Hyde.

Modern technology might stop me from working. This robot in Woolworths checks on shelves for empty low...

Posted by Bridget Hyde on Monday, January 20, 2020

“This issue should not ever come up,” she said.

“It shows a bit of ignorance towards people with disabilities – how are people in wheelchairs or with prams supposed to get through the aisle with this robot?”

She added that she’s “really concerned” is the “silly robots” gets rolled out to even more stores across the country, that it may make it difficult for people to do their shopping.

“I just want people to be able to enjoy their shopping instead of worrying about being stalked by a penis-shaped robot,” said Ms Hyde.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that they want all customers “to feel welcome” and regret that, on this occasion it “wasn’t the case”.

The spokesperson revealed that someone has gotten in touch with Ms Hyde and “will look into details with the robot manufacturer as a priority”.

“The safety robot is part of a trial designed to improve customer safety and experience in the store, and we’re closely monitoring customer feedback on it,” they said.

“These robots operate in hundreds of stores across the world and have been subject to extensive safety testing by the manufacturer. They have sensors built in and are programmed to stop or move away from any fixed or moving objects.”