France Begins Testing Humanoid Robot to Help Shoppers
A robot sales force continues to be rolled out in various forms. In North America, we have seen Lowe’s department store test their version, called the OSHbot, which speaks two languages and can help customers select the correct item and physically lead them to it. Best Buy lets customers choose their products through an automated system, then have it retrieved with a robotic arm named Chloe. Both can be seen in the videos below:
However, the evolution of humanoid robots could offer a far more familiar experience. „Pepper” is a humanoid robot that was developed in Japan by a French company, Aldebaran Robotics, and has been making the rounds in various locations to highlight its skills. Pepper is considered one of the new breed of robot that not only can complete requested tasks, but shows enough signs of intuition – such as being able to read facial expressions/emotion – that makers believe it will offer a far more engaging experience to shoppers. The robot already entered the market in Japan with 4,000 sales in just a few months and has now been brought to France as a field test for European audiences and their specific cultural reactions. It made its first appearance in multinational retailer, Carrefour, where it helped people with wine and food selections. Developers believe that not only can Pepper be a friendly addition as sales staff, but offers a much deeper emotional connection as a home companion. The emergence of robots that are humanoid in appearance, combined with advanced artificial intelligence have intensified the debate about how entrenched social robotics is likely to become. If you haven’t met Pepper before, now’s your chance, might be coming to a store near you….