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.

Comments (56)
  1. Sorry, but sending a robot out to help me sends the message that Lowes (or whomever uses robots) doesn’t have time for me. Ever since auto checkout lanes have started cropping up, I have refused to use them, even leaving purchases in the store if they refused to open a lane with a real person in it. Merchants need to realize, there are millions of us who feel this way, if we want to shop without human assistance, we can hit…. otherwise, put a clerk in the check out aisle.

    1. Hao De says:

      big deal.

      that’s a baby step up from the usual wall mounted devices that enable one to locate stuff in the big box stores. like junior versions of “garmin” gps devices.

      if these mobile units would actually lead/”follow me”, the customer to the display, that’s better than most results from live store employees. only exception to that i’ve found are the employees of the new, expanding, grocery supermarket chain… “winco”. employee owned, based in boise. more than once when i asked store staff which seem to be aplenty, the employee would lead me to the exact display. instead of the usual… “i think it’s in aisle…..”

  2. Mike Smith says:

    Often when I need assistance at Home Depot or Lowes, the employee is already helping someone else. The the customer asks question after question, while I’m just standing there. I wouldn’t mind a robot or even a kiosk where I could simply type in “hammers” and then get what I need.

    1. I feel your pain, employees are hard to find when you need them, then when you don’t need them it seems like everyone showed up to work that day.

  3. well it will be better than the current morons that are there that dont know what schedule 40 PVC is

  4. Tommy Lewis says:

    This is whats going to happen to those new $15 an hour wage increase jobs. Robots will start showing up all over the place and put low wage earners out of work. This will hurt that entry level teenager & keep them out of the workforce. So how is that new increase in wages the liberals promised you going? Pathetic.

    1. Lefties are about to rediscover that the true ‘minimum wage’ is the same always and everywhere in the world: zero.

  5. A robot?
    Gawd…now we won’t just have dumb associates blowing a train of thought while shopping, we’ll have a dumb robot.

  6. Angie Smith says:

    Great gimmic until it runs over some little kid.

    1. ‘Gimmic’ is not a word. Why would you post a comment predicated on a word you don’t know?

      1. Rich Beeson says:

        Thak gooness we got spel cheker here in waRden C lyffE soo hapy to now Gimmic is not a wurd but I ded now wat Angie ment.

  7. Eddie Lang says:

    Heck, don’t worry, they’ll all be hiding in the rear of the store somewhere just like their human brothers and sisters.

  8. Joe Strader says:

    If will help load the car, I am all in.

  9. What happens when I ask it for a case of 9mm Luger FMJ 115 gr or some other items not in the store?

    1. Why would you do that? Do have something wrong with your personality that makes you a misfit agitator for no tangible purpose whatsoever?

      1. Rich Beeson says:

        Warden are you not able to pickup on tongue in cheek or a little sarcasm? You must be a Lowes associate.

  10. And with people out of work, looking for a job, isn’t it nice that they have to compete with a robot? I did smile when the man asked for a soda and it offered him Drain Cleaner. In our growing state of mass illiteracy, if the man didn’t know the difference ingesting Sodium Hydroxide would have been very interesting. Robotics has it’s uses but this is one inviting disaster. Also, how can we put people back to work in the US when they have to compete with robots, their jobs being moved off shore for cheap labor without any restrictions or illegal aliens that come here to work? Lets just make the human employment for our citizens worse shall we?

  11. craniumlogos says:

    the robot is bilingual and can’ understand you, doesn’t know where anything is… how is that any different than the humans who work there?

  12. This is outstanding. Perhaps now I’ll get some assistance in my local Lowes. The store could be empty of customers and I still can’t find a sales rep for assistance. I hope they roll these bots out quickly.

  13. I’ll just ask it for a Human Being, Older male with grey hair please….

    1. Ken Heins says:

      ” Older male with grey hair please….” Pretty much true in many stores but you can add the grey haired lady too. If you want to actually get something done.

      OK calm down, there are exceptions to that, there ARE some teenagers who can work their tails off and do everything we can do, but you can bet they probably have two gray-haired parents and grandparents who can also find their butts with both hands!

      Funny story: or not funny; I live near Mount Rushmore; 2.5 to 3 million visitors every year. In the area this summer, many businesses this summer reported that on August 1 or thereabouts, large numbers of high school students quit, stating things like: “I need time with my friends” etc.

      It’s ok, us old guys and girls took your hours and the money that would have gone into your paychecks, which you apparently did not need. But don’t go asking mom, dad, grandpa and grandma for money.

      Not my granddaughters though, they were properly raised.

  14. So what Lowe’s is saying is they will be releasing a soulless, emotionless being that has been completely corporately programmed and has no emotion about my satisfaction as a customer one way or the other onto their sales floor, only this one will be a robot. Got it.

    1. Ralph Gizzip says:

      We’ve had one of those for the last 8 years! /snark

  15. Jesse Magee says:

    I worked at Lowe’s for three years back in the ’90s. It was far and away the worst work environment I’ve ever been subjected to. Look up “Lowe’s Overtime Lawsuit” for an example.The employees at Lowe’s are nothing but another cost to the company, one they’d love to do without. They were one of the first companies to use self checkout, eliminating cashiers. The robot eliminates floor help and is just another way of eliminating what the board of directors sees as the annoying and random element of human workers.

  16. David LaPell says:

    It won’t replace workers… first. But when companies start to realize how much they can save by having this robot on hand or more like it, it won’t be long before the dopey kid who is standing around the garden department will be out the door. Our Lowes the employees, if you can find one, are a complete waste of time, most have no idea what you’re talking about or where it is even if they do.

    1. David LaPell says:

      AND….once the company realizes that the robot doesn’t need breaks, doesn’t call in sick, doesn’t complain about the pay, or the hours, or anything else. Then they will line up more of them as fast as they can.

  17. Their website search engine is the worst on Earth,product descriptions horrible, result filters are useless,and the whole site is generally ugly and slow. Lowes should fix that elephant in the room before playing with corny robots.

  18. You mean that kid in plumbing that worked in electronics yesterday and lumber the day before isn’t real helpful?

  19. Douglas Good says:

    A voice-activated information kiosk would be preferable whereby the customer approaches if/when when needing assistance, rather than a mobile automaton stalking the customer. How creepy and untoward! Please fire the MBAs that suggested this.

  20. Dan English says:

    No problem anyone married more then a few years will find it similar.

  21. Ray Leonard says:

    Well, hopefully the robot will be more knowledgeably and helpful than the salespeople at the Lowes in santa Fe

  22. Karl Spencer says:

    I shop at Lowes 2 or 3 times a week for my business. In the last year I have been greeted once while in the store, ONCE! I took the time to congratulate the associate on his customer service and my shock that an employee even said hello.

  23. Gary Riggs says:

    I wonder if they robots will ever get to where they run away from you when they see you walking towards it like most Lowes employees do? They reason they had to get robots is because since their inception, most Lowes stores can’t get their employees to help customers. They’re too busy talking or snap chatting.

  24. Vox Veritas says:

    Does Lo-Bot wear a blue vest?

  25. David Lee says:

    Maybe the robot can help KPIX edit their stories.

    “…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.”

    Is it LoweBot or Lo Bot? And it’s aisles, not isles.

  26. Robots are great.

    I might go back into a McDonald or Taco Bell, etc., IF I knew the food was being prepared by a clean, reliable, non-disease/parasite carrying robot, instead of a Democrat.

    1. I agree, most Democrats are dirty, filthy even…..I def prefer a robot to any Democrat…

  27. The robot age begins. Minimum wage workers beware you can easily be replaced.

  28. Lots of haters but I find I mostly just need someone or something to tell me where something is located in the store……I like it..

  29. Hopefully this helps because whenever I go into Lowe’s, I find it hard to find someone to help me.

  30. Keep that tech coming guys so we can get rid of every human working. Great job, sorry poor retired guy looking to make a few bucks to eat…. here our new robot that will do it for free!!!! Make America Great Again…… lets start with removing the tech that is replacing humans. We need work………. no worky no taxes, no taxes, not taxes no green to fuel the greedy clowns in government.