Robots Hit Retail Sales Floor in San Jose

Kristan T. Harris | The Rundown Live

oshMeet OSHbot, your new retail salesman, recently created by Lowe’s Innovation Labs to be your new sales person. The android will approach customers and ask qualifying questions and has the ability to communicate in multiple languages. If an item is not in stock or a resolution can not be reached, the droid can connect guests to other droids or humans, in other locations, across the globe.

Throughout the night the machine takes inventory and maps the retail location in 3D.

This allows the robot to know where every item in the store is located and prepares the droid for the AM shift.

This will also save the company a considerable amount of money. Humans take smoke breaks, lunch breaks, require healthcare, 401k, vacations, lawsuits, cause shrink and sometimes are unreliable.

But are these Androids personable?

osh4One employee of the launching Orchard Supply hardware store, in San Jose, described his droid experience as making a friend with the android: “I actually really like it and we could be considered friends”.

It’s not just robots for robots’ sake, or a marketing gimmick,” insists Kyl Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, to the BBC.

Orders could be made using a wireless connection with smart phone or tablet to expedite the process, however it feels more natural to ask someone.

“It’s another barrier if you have to download something. If you come into a store you’re there for a reason, and you typically want it right away,” Mr Nel says.

At the moment there are only two of the robots, with variations being field tested, both at the San Jose location.

These variations include whether the robots’ voices should be male or female, electronic or human; whether they should have a face or not; and how fast they should move.

Will these robots be able to compete with human sales personal who can stadium sell, multitask and offer creative solutions to sometimes complex problems?