Shoppers were astounded to see a robotic dog choosing a treat in the pet aisle of a store that has recently started welcoming four-legged customers.

Spot the robotic dog visited Wilko in Whitehaven, along with a number of independent shops in the town, after wowing children at a science show in St Nicholas’ Gardens.

Wilko, which recently rolled out pet-friendly shopping at stores across the country, welcomed Spot, who picked a chew from the pet aisle and then paid for it at the till.

The canine-like robot then made its way to Dixons department store and browsed the make-up counter, before heading to the Whitehaven Town Council offices and Richardson’s of Whitehaven, to view the wine selection.

Sam Crayton, assistant store manager at Wilko in Whitehaven, said: “We began welcoming pets into 248 of our stores in February.  We know that a pet is more than just a pet, they’re a fully-fledged member of the family and we’ve loved getting to meet our customer’s pals.

 “We were more than happy to welcome Spot into our Whitehaven store after we found out they were in town for the children’s science show.  We hope they enjoyed their treat – certainly a good choice.”

Gerard Richardson, who organised the science show and Spot’s visit with Whitehaven Town Council, said: “Spot is a superstar and the day has been fabulous. Whitehaven is always stunning when the sun is out but walking around town with Spot was a delight.

“I’ve walked all sorts of celebrities round this town over the years but none of them have ever got the same reaction.

“It was just fabulous to see how people reacted. West Cumbria is at the frontier of cutting-edge technology and we should all be extremely proud.”

The agile, mobile robot designed by Boston Dynamics, is part of RAICo1, a new robotics and artificial intelligence centre on Whitehaven harbour.

The centre is being used by Sellafield Ltd, supply chain partners and academia to develop the technology needed to decommission Sellafield and other sites like it.

Chris Ballard, robotics programme manager at Sellafield Ltd, said: “The whole purpose of walking the dog around today, is to introduce the dog so it becomes business as usual. People see the dog eventually, and say, ‘there’s that dog’, rather than, ‘wow!’

“The more we introduce robotics and the more exposure people get to it, it becomes commonplace.

“We’re doing work at St Nicholas’ Gardens with the school kids. We’re trying to introduce STEM so right at the early years we have introduced the technology to try and inspire young minds.”

Richard Brook, technology lead at Atkins, added: “There are some fantastic opportunities and careers in advanced robotics. Some of the stuff at RAICo that’s cutting-edge robotics to solve some fairly hefty problems.”

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