Shoppers at San Francisco area Lowe’s stores are about to encounter a new kind of customer service worker: The LoweBot. Sound familiar? It might: Lowe’s Innovation Labs first showed off an autonomous shopping assistant at CES 2015. Back then it was called OSHBot (for Orchard Supply Hardware), and it was still a work in progress. Not anymore — the LoweBot is scheduled to make its public debut this fall at 11 Bay Area hardware stores.
The LoweBot is designed to cover the most basic retail customer service task: helping shoppers find the item they’re looking for. Need a hammer? The LoweBot will be able to help you pick the right tool from its inventory and lead you directly to its location. The robot can apparently listen to customer requests in multiple languages — and when there aren’t any shoppers to help, it can scan the aisle for missing products, helping human workers keep tabs on inventory.
Worried LoweBot is out to take your job? Don’t be — there’s still plenty of jobs at the hardware store the armless robot can’t do. Human workers are still needed for cutting wood, loading tucks with supplies, processing transactions and, of course, cleaning up that mess on aisle 9.