If you’re concerned about being replaced by technology, you should be. US hardware chain Lowe’s has introduced mobile robots and is testing how shoppers react to them.

Four robots have been installed at the Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, California.

The robots resemble large white columns with two black screens. They carry the store’s full inventory in their database and can look up any item they are asked.

Shoppers can even present an item to them. 3D cameras will scan the proffered item and check its records for a match. They will then be able to flash the in-store item on one of their screens for the shopper to peruse.

The robots are on wheels. So should the shopper wish to find the item, the robot can lead them to it.


Marco Mascorro, CEO of Fellow Robots, left, and Kyle Nel, Executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. Image: online.wsj.com

If the item on the screen is not what they are looking for the shopper can research the item they do want on the screen

Kyle Nel, the executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Lab, is blown away by the breakthrough. “They based on making a science fiction story a reality,” he told reporters.

“People can come in with a random screw and say, ‘Mr Robot, I need more of these.’ And if we do have it in the store, they can find it.

Mr. Nel went on to say the robots can speak English and Spanish.

Lowes was reluctant to disclose the price of the engineering and construction of the four robots. They have been working closely with Silicon Valley robotics firm Fellow Robots since November to develop them.

Lowes has been trying to introduce more technology into its customer service. It has created a ‘holoroom’ allowing shoppers to see various combinations of furniture together in a virtual-reality environment.

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