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Swiss supermarket trialling new robot cleaners in stores

Swiss supermarket trialling new robot cleaners in stores

Those visiting a number of Denner stores in Switzerland will soon have to share the floor space with a couple of beaming LED faces, with the supermarket confirming that it has begun testing new robot cleaners. The brand follows several other locations in Switzerland that have invested in the “labour-saving” devices.

Denner trialling robot cleaners in Swiss stores

Speaking to Watson, Denner spokesperson Thomas Kaderli confirmed that brand-new AI-powered cleaning robots have taken to the shop floor in four branches in Switzerland. While he refused to reveal which stores were included, one has already been pictured at a Denner store in Opfikon, Canton Zurich.

The 75-kilo bots are estimated to cost up to 23.000 francs each and are designed to be intelligent cleaners that will continually sweep the shop floor. Kaderli said that during the trial period, they will examine “how robots can relieve our employees of the simplest cleaning activities, such as cleaning the floor”, though the cleaning of the shelves will still be done by human workers.

Cleaning robots well-received by customers

He added that so far the “robots are very well received, both by employees and customers” though there have been some cases where the robots have collided with customers while shopping. At the end of the trial, Denner will decide on whether to roll the robots out nationwide - Migros, which owns Denner, will also decide whether to use the technology in their stores.

However, with fears that AI and automation could soon replace many jobs in Switzerland ever-increasing, Kaderli noted that they will not be reducing staff number and instead use “the time saved for other tasks.”

SBB and Zurich Airport already trialling robot workers

While Denner is the first major Swiss supermarket to employ robots, it isn’t the only company to take a tentative step into the brave new world. Swiss Federal Railways trialled the robots on public transport between 2017 and 2024 - though ultimately, they chose not to renew them. 

Since December 2023, Zurich Airport has employed Charlie and Zulu, two robots that clean the terminal areas. Spokesperson for the airport, Andrea Bärwalde, told Watson that they have been a success, allowing staff to “free themselves up for tasks requiring more manual skills” and making the airport a more attractive place to work as a cleaner.

Thumb image credit: Efired / Shutterstock.com

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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