Lowe’s Unveils LoweBot, The Bilingual Robot That Is Eager To Please

Lowe’s Unveils LoweBot, The Bilingual Robot That Is Eager To Please

November 17, 2016 6:23 PM By Don Ford

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — There’s a new employee rolling around several Bay Area stores — the bilingual robots — asking if you need help at Lowe’s.

“I’m Lowe’s Robot helper,” the Lowe’s robot says. “I can tell you where things are in the store.”

The Lowe’s Hardware store’s latest piece of hardware…a helpful robot they’re calling, LoweBot, it wanders the isles approaching people to help find stuff.

“Can I help you find something?” Lo Bot asks.

Kyle Nel, the executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, said it won’t replace workers.

“Not at all. This was designed from the ground up to be an assistant to the store helper,” Nel said.

The robot rep demonstrated how the robot works. You just tell it what you’re looking for.

“I’m looking for hammers,” you say.

The robot then communicates with the stores central computer for an items location using LIDAR, lasers and cameras to navigate. It then takes you there — for a moment it was stumped by a busy aisle.

Eventually the robot found the hammers and the robot rep was relieved.

But what about real people.

One guy wants a soft drink.

“I’m looking for a Soda,” he said.

“Drain cleaner,” the robot responds. The robot likes specifics.

“Do you have Pepsi?” the man asks.

That worked.

“I followed it and it took me right to it!” the man said.

Most folks didn’t seem to know what it was.

Twenty two of these robots will work in eleven Lowe’s stores in the Bay Area, but sometimes you just need a real person.

“We just need a human being to help us,” one customer said.

While Lo Bot seems to be doing a pretty good job — for the most part — now it will take some time for people to get used to talking to a robot.

Don Ford joined KPIX 5 as a Multimedia Journalist (MMJ) in 2011. He shoots, writes, and edits all of his own stories. This gives him tremendous flexibility covering stories across California.


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