30th October 2014
OSHbot – a new automated retail assistant
A new retail service robot can help customers shop smarter, navigate stores more efficiently, and instantly access information. OSHbot is being introduced by Orchard Supply Hardware at its flagship store in San Jose, California.
This holiday season, Lowe's Innovation Labs will introduce two autonomous retail service robots in a flagship Orchard Supply Hardware store in midtown San Jose, California to study how robotics technology can benefit customers and employees.
Called OSHbot, the robots will assist customers to quickly navigate stores by directing them to specific products and providing real-time information about product promotions and inventory. In the coming months, OSHbots will also be able to communicate with customers in multiple languages and remotely connect with expert employees at other Orchard stores.
"Using science fiction prototyping, we explored solutions to improve customer experiences by helping customers quickly find the products and information they came in looking for," said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs. "As a result we developed autonomous retail service robot technology to be an intuitive tool customers can use to ask for help, in their preferred language, and expect a consistent experience."
For store employees, OSHbot will provide an additional layer of support by helping customers with simple questions, enabling more time for them to focus on delivering project expertise. Applications designed to support employees also include real-time inventory management and connecting with employees in other locations to share know-how and answer customer questions.
The OSHbot incorporates scanning technology first developed for the Lowe's Holoroom home improvement simulator. For example, a customer may bring in a spare part and scan the object using OSHbot's 3D sensing camera. After scanning and identifying the object, OSHbot will provide product information to the customer and help guide them to its location on store shelves.
The OSHbot was developed through a partnership between Lowe's Innovation Labs and Fellow Robots, a Silicon Valley company specialising in the design and development of autonomous service robots. The partnership was initiated through SU Labs – a Singularity University program that connects corporate innovation teams with startups and other organisations to explore exponentially accelerating technologies and create new sustainable business solutions.
"The last decade was one of rapid technological advancement and prototyping, especially in robotics," said 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."