Lowes' new robot worker will help customers on its own

The presence of robots in our lives is growing rapidly, and with them come all sorts of marvelous prospects and horrifying possibilities. Though we've had small robots vacuuming our floors and augmenting our military for a while now, the average person doesn't expect to interact with an intelligent machine while out grocery shopping or otherwise running errands. That'll be changing soon enough, with different companies adding robots to their worker lists. There's the Butlr robot being utilized by Starwood Hotels, for example, and soon to join it will be the OSHbot at Lowes hardware stores.

A total of two OSHbot robots will be rolled out (literally) at the Orchard Supply Hardware store — owned by Lowes — in San Jose next month. Lowes boasts that this represents the first use of retail robots in the United States, and indicates a shift in how businesses are optimizing experiences for customers.

The robot functions simply enough, and that simplicity is the result of complex — and pricey — technologies, including natural language processing (in English and Spanish), a 3D scanner, Lidar, dual displays, cameras, and more. With these tools, OSHbot can welcome customers to the store and ask if they can use assistance.

Customers can then use the robots to locate items (and identify products, if necessary), as well as talking to an expert over video chat with the robot's display. Specials for items will be displayed on the robot's screens, as well, and in the future the machines may even be able to 3D print small objects.

VIA: Wall Street Journal