Lowes Robot Store Assistant – Is LoweBot the Future, or a Bad Idea?
If you walk into one of eleven Lowe’s stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may run into something new. Lowe’s Innovation Labs has rolled out 22 robots designed to help shoppers find products. The new robots stand about 5 feet tall and are bilingual. The Lowes robot (LoweBot) rolls around asking customers if they need any help, announcing “I’m Lowe’s Robot helper. I can tell you where things are in the store.”
The Origin of the LoweBot Lowes Robot
Lowe’s is calling the new robot LoweBot, but it actually started back in 2014 as OSHbot. Lowe’s Innovation Labs partnered with Fellow Robots then to create and market an Autonomous Retail Service Robot technology. The idea was to enhance the shopping experience for customers and relieve employees of more basic product searching tasks. The OSHbot pilot program closed when Lowe’s rolled out its LoweBot program.
Kyle Nel, the executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, claims that the new Lowes LoweBot robots won’t replace workers. Rather, it’s an assistant that can allow workers to focus on more complex customer questions and issues. The Lowes robot is good for locating parts, products, and tools, but it also gets confused if you’re not specific enough. In the video example, it was asked to locate framing hammers and it got a little confused by a crowded aisle before finding the proper location.
The LoweBot Lowes robot works in a very direct and simple manner: Customers just tell it what they’re looking for. The robot wirelessly communicates with the store’s inventory system and uses LIDAR lasers and cameras to navigate. LIDAR is the primary technology that makes new self-driving cars possible.
So is a robot store assistant the future? Would you use one over an app to find products? Curiously enough, both Lowe’s and The Home Depot have ways to tell you exactly which aisle in which products are located. The LoweBot robot seems to add physical leading to that. Considering the number one question asked in stores is likely “Where can I find…,” this may be a great idea.
What do you think? Do you want to see a Lowes robot or similar in your local home improvement store?
Note: Photo credit sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com