Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 73° Clear
News >  Business

Customer-service robots tested by Lowe’s at stores

A woman holds up a nail to be scanned by an OSHbot robot, in this image provided by Lowe’s. The robots are equipped with 3-D cameras so they can scan and identify items. They also can lead customers to the aisle where an item is located. (Associated Press)
A woman holds up a nail to be scanned by an OSHbot robot, in this image provided by Lowe’s. The robots are equipped with 3-D cameras so they can scan and identify items. They also can lead customers to the aisle where an item is located. (Associated Press)
Mae Anderson Associated Press

NEW YORK – The robots are coming.

Lowe’s is testing whether new bots on wheels can improve its customer service, like helping a shopper find a match for something as simple as a nail.

Four robots are being tested at an Orchard Supply Hardware store owned by Lowe’s Companies Inc. in San Jose, California.

The robots, dubbed OSHbots, look like white columns with two large black screens on either side of them, and have wheels to help them move. They are equipped with 3-D cameras so they can scan and identify items. And customers can research items they want to buy on their screen. Then the robot can lead them to the aisle where an item is located.

“They’re based on making a science-fiction story a reality,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Lab.

The robots also have a database of what inventory is in stock at the store, so they can let customers know if something is out of stock or not.

“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,” Nel said. The robots can speak in English and Spanish.

Lowe’s started working with Fellow Robots, a technology company in Silicon Valley, in November to develop the robots. The cost of the project is undisclosed.

Lowe’s has been working on infusing more technology into its customer service. It also has developed a “holoroom” that can let users see what different pieces of furniture look like in different rooms in a virtual-reality environment.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.