Robotics

Lowe's trials robot sales assistants

Lowe's trials robot sales assi...
OSHbots are designed to not only identify and locate merchandise, but to speak to customers in their own languages
OSHbots are designed to not only identify and locate merchandise, but to speak to customers in their own languages
View 11 Images
The OSHbot can lead customers to merchandise
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The OSHbot can lead customers to merchandise
The OSHbot uses sensors to identify human bodies
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The OSHbot uses sensors to identify human bodies
OSHbots are designed to not only identify and locate merchandise, but to speak to customers in their own languages
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OSHbots are designed to not only identify and locate merchandise, but to speak to customers in their own languages
The OSHbot can communicate with human staff
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The OSHbot can communicate with human staff
The OSHbot provides store promotions
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The OSHbot provides store promotions
The OSHbot is capable of identifying merchandise
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The OSHbot is capable of identifying merchandise
The OSHbot's laser collision avoidance system
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The OSHbot's laser collision avoidance system
The OSHbot performs inventory control
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The OSHbot performs inventory control
The OSHbot robot has flatscreens front and back
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The OSHbot robot has flatscreens front and back
The OSHbot can speak to customers in several languages
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The OSHbot can speak to customers in several languages
OSHbot features
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OSHbot features

In the near future, you might be surprised to visit to the giant hardware store in your town and find yourself greeted by a chatty robot rather than a human sales assistant. A harbinger of this age of robotic shopping is being trialled with two Oshbot robot sales assistants at an Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, California. Built by Lowe’s Innovation Labs and Silicon Valley technology company Fellow Robots using "science fiction prototyping," the OSHbots are designed to not only identify and locate merchandise, but to speak to customers in their own languages.

The personal touch makes visits to cavernous megastores less intimidating – especially when you’re a novice in the world or U-bends and junction boxes. But human sales assistant cost money, which can often be more effectively spent by concentrating human talents on more complex tasks than hunting down a self-tapping drywall screw. To allow this while still keeping customers happy, Orchard Supply, a subsidiary of Lowe’s, is seeing how well robots can take up the slack.

Standing 5 ft (152 cm) high and weighing 85 lb (38.5 kg), the OSHbot looks like a white pillar with a couple of flat screens stuck on front and back. In its "head" is a 3D scanner that can detect and identify a human body standing in front of it and a smart laser sensor, along with a second in the base, for collision avoidance.

OSHbot features
OSHbot features

To tackle the task at hand, the robot features wireless networking, voice recognition, product information and location, inventory integration and design prototyping. When first turned on it can spend an evening roaming the store while using the scanning technology created for the Lowe’s Holoroom home improvement simulator to build up a map for autonomous navigation. In addition, its 3D camera can identify objects for customers and help locate them.

Lowe’s points out that the OSHbot provides information in real time about products and inventory and, being, a sales robot, pushes store promotions. It speaks several languages and can connect to live employees if enquiries are beyond the robot's ability. It can also help with inventory management and allow employees to communicate between stores.

"The last decade was one of rapid technological advancement and prototyping, especially in robotics," says Marco Mascorro, chief executive officer of Fellow Robots. "With OSHbot, we’ve worked closely with Lowe’s Innovation Labs to take autonomous retail service robot technology out of the sandbox and into the consumer market – enhancing the in-store consumer experience and creating smarter shoppers."

The video below showcases the OSHbot’s capabilities.

Source: Lowe’s

9 comments
Stephen N Russell
Apps for: Retail chains A-Z esp for Holiday season alone IE since Oct 31 to Jan 5th alone. & for niche days IE July 4th, Vets Day etc. Be huge & double for Security & to call EMT IF warranted. & aid in backroom stocking too. Need manipulators to aid stocking shelves alone. Mass produce. Be awsome in Costco stores alone.
Solomookie
I wonder if the robot will be programmed to study its base as you approach it so as not to have to acknowledge your presence; like standard Lowe's employees study their shoes...
Dave82
Whilst I love tech and can't wait to have a self driving car I do worry what will become of humans in a world without jobs for anyone. Self driving cars will get rid of taxi, bus, truck drivers, couriers and a many millions more people who rely on driving for a living. Anyone remember the automatic hamburger machine a while back? There go your fast food jobs and now we have this as well for retail space. There will probably be robots to service other robots. In 10 or 20 years unemployment rates maybe approaching 30% 40 % or perhaps more and that I find scary I mean what will that do to our society when more than half of people cant even afford to buy an automatic hamburger or take a robot taxi ride. I think we should have our eyes open to this a bit more as no one seems to be talking about it. How will we confront this???
Bob Flint
Not much use if the item you are looking for is not in stock, or has been discontinued...more often the case especially with the rapid evolution of building supplies even flooring material alone has changed so dramatically. Try finding natural maple hardwood planks 2.25" wide none finished.
the.other.will
Within the USA, discussion of the impact of automation on employment and how that affects society as a whole has been diverted towards hostility towards immigrants.
The Wizard
It's just wrong. Where will the people work? Will robots shop for us ? What about people?????
Nelson Hyde Chick
Technology, giving one person the abilities of a thousand people while making those thousand people obsolete.
Don Duncan
Technology frees us by increasing our productivity. It does not make us obsolete, it makes us more powerful. Primitive humans worked from sun up to sun down every day and often still lost the struggle to survive. They had no leisure time. They had little margin for error. They lived with the daily threat of death. Technology is the physical extension of the mind. It allows us to mold our environment for our needs. The fear of technology is irrational, dangerous, and anti-life, just as the embracement of superstition, and both have possibly the same root.
Christaylo
Don Duncan, I have a few points of disagreement. Fear of technology, like fear in everyday life, can be limiting, but it also can keep us from making imprudent decisions and engaging in reckless behavior. Even Stephan Hawking fears the future of artificial intelligence and suggests moving carefully. Also, "Primitive" humans did not work from sun up to sun down. Hunter gatherers had more leisure time than modern humans, and survived sufficiently to account for 90% of human history. It was the advent of agriculture and industrial technology that has caused humans to work many more hours per day.