Ahold Delhaize President and CEO Frans Muller (right) poses with a representative of Fybots, one of the winners of the retailer's inaugural Cleaning Bot Challenge.
Ahold Delhaize has selected Fybots and Adlatus Robotics as the winners of the retail conglomerate’s inaugural Cleaning Bot Challenge, a worldwide competition to scout and select smart technology solutions to perform in-store cleaning tasks.
More than 380 companies were scouted for the challenge, with nine reaching the finals. These finalists pitched their solutions in two tracks. In the first track, contestants pitched directly applicable cleaning solutions. The winner of that track, Voissons-le-Bretonneux, France-based Fybots, was chosen because of the flexibility of its autonomous solution. The company has now been invited to run in-store pilots at one of Ahold Delhaize’s local banners.
The second track focused on promising future technologies that can be co-developed. Ulm, Germany-based Adlatus won this track because of its technical capability. The company will now embark on a partnership with Ahold Delhaize’s AIRLab, the joint industry lab of the grocer and theDelft University of Technology, in The Netherlands, to co-develop new robotics technology applications.
“Smart technology, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, offers countless possibilities for the retail industry, the consumer and society at large,’’ noted Frans Muller, President and CEO of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize. ‘’With this challenge, we wanted to further develop our ongoing initiatives and explore how our great local brands and support offices can use this technology to better support associates as they serve customers. I was impressed by the quality of the pitches and the innovation behind the solutions.’’
Added Muller: “A clean environment for associates and customers is now more important than ever. Cleaning tasks are often physically demanding and include many repetitive tasks. Increased cleaning cycles, due to COVID-19, have put teams under a lot of pressure. Robotics can help these associates. By reducing their time spent on repetitive cleaning, associates can focus more on customers, where they can make an even greater difference.’’
Ahold Delhaize’s Ahold Delhaize USAdivision is the parent company for the retail conglomerate’s U.S. companies, consisting of Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford, and Stop & Shop, as well as e-grocer Peapod; Retail Business Services, a U.S. support services company providing services to the brands; and Peapod Digital Labs, its e-commerce engine. Operating more than 2,000 stores across 23 states, Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of thetop foodand consumablesretailers in the United States.