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Robot sales clerk? 'OSHbot' to debut in San Jose

Robot sales clerk? 'OSHbot' to debut in San Jose
Orchard Supply Hardware is testing a robot in San Jose. (Lowe's)

Lowe's Companies Inc. thinks it knows how to make your shopping experience easier: robots.

This holiday season, the home improvement company is introducing two robots at a San Jose Orchard Supply Hardware store. The so-called OSHbots will help shoppers find goods and dole out "real-time" information on inventory and promotions, according to Lowe's, which owns Orchard.

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Customers can bring in a spare nail, bolt or other item and scan it through the robot's 3D sensing camera. OSHbot will then direct customers to the location where they can find more of that item.

Lowe's said the bots will eventually speak multiple languages and connect to sales staff in other stores.

The roll-out in San Jose is a partnership with Lowe's Innovation Labs and Fellow Robots, a Silicon Valley tech firm. The launch will "study how robotics technology can benefit customers and employees," Lowe's said.

According to the Mooresville, N.C., home improvement giant, the robots will help customers with simple questions and allow human staff to "focus on delivering project expertise."

Lowe's spokeswoman Amanda Manna said the company intends to keep the robots in San Jose for the long term and, depending on how the experience goes, could roll out the technology to other stores.

However, there are no current plans to do so, she said.

Manna said the two San Jose bots will start helping customers in late November or early December.

Twitter: @khouriandrew

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