Say hello to the new shopping assistant at your local Lowe’s: a robot. The home improvement chain, which recently acquired Orchard Supply Hardware, will begin rolling out OSHbots in some California stores in late November.
The the white 5-foot tall robotic shopping assistants will greet customers, ask if they need help and guide them to a product in either English or Spanish (more languages coming soon). In addition to language processing technology, the OSHbots are also equipped with two large video screens and a 3-D scanner for price checks. Lowe’s argues these robots will be solving a problem and marrying the best of e-commerce shopping convenience to a brick-and-mortar store.
Will consumers go for this, or could it be supremely creepy? Could this lead to a jolt of commerce for big box stores? And will this displace entry level jobs for humans?
Richard Feinberg, consumer psychologist in the Department of Consumer Science at Purdue University
Lawrence Mishel, president of Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank that focuses on economic issues. He is also a labor market economist.