OSHbot and the Future of Retail Robotics

November 04, 2015 | Retail


Robots have been around for a long time. But one engineering company is blazing a trail in retail with robots they call OSHbots. The OSHbot developed in Silicon Valley is being trialed at a large hardware store in Northern California. Unlike robots currently working the night shift in Amazon warehouses for example, these retail robots are designed to interact with humans during regular store hours. If you need a store associate, OSHbot is your go-to guy.

Developed in partnership with Lowe’s Innovation Labs, OSHbot offers multiple technologies that facilitate robot to human interaction. Advanced sensors help OSHbot avoid collisions and navigate the store autonomously. These retail robots are Bilingual in English and Spanish. OSHbot is also equipped with speech recognition, wireless networking, inventory integration and product information. A 3D scanner detects the presence of a human in front of the bot. It can also be used to match a single part (like a nail). In the future, the scanner may be able to re-create a part with a 3D printer.

About investing in retail robotics, Lowe’s says, “A customer’s experience in retail stores remained relatively unchanged for decades but their expectations changed significantly. Lowe’s Innovation Labs partnered with Fellow Robots to introduce Autonomous Retail Service Robot technology to amplify the shopping experience for customers and employees.”

OSHbot features two screens on the front and back of the system. The back screen displays store promotions sent via signals from in-store beacons. The front screen can be used for videoconferencing with a store expert on a tricky home improvement project.

Retail robots are not only helpful to customers they help employees as well by keeping up-to-date inventory data and locating goods within large and densely packed stores. Retail and other service robots are designed to take on many of the repetitive tasks like inventory management that prevent employees from providing better service to their customers. Ideally the robots won’t replace humans, simply support them in their jobs.

The International Federation of Robotics predicts 16,000 new service robots will be sold over the next three years. Other robot makers in the mix include tech start-up Savioke. Their Relay robot is designed for use in hotels, delivering room service, toiletries and other amenities to guests.

Posted by Andrew Changelian | Request as a Speaker

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