Stockland’s humanoid robot assists western Sydney shoppers

stockland-robotRetail landlord, Stockland, has undertaken its first test case of human robot interaction at a shopping centre in Sydney’s west earlier this week.

The property firm said it is aiming to develop further sophisticated applications, which will transform and enhance the in-centre experiences of the 422,000 shoppers who visit one of Stockland’s 40 shopping centres every day, such as helping to find a lost child or assist disabled customer.

Chip, a 1.7m tall, 100kg social humanoid robot, will take part in a number of interactions with customers and retailers from food sampling to centre way-finding, assisting the elderly customer by carrying their groceries to their car and welcoming customers to the centre.

The humanoid robot is owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Stockland and CBA have entered into a partnership agreement to jointly run a range of robotics experiments, and share learnings through the collaborative relationship.

Developed by Spanish company Pal Robotics, Chip is an advanced humanoid robot with a face, arms and torso, and one of only three models in the world. The robot has a 12.1 inch touch screen, and has a sophisticated mix of cameras, lasers, ultrasounds, microphones and speakers which allow Chip to recognise faces, converse with people and answer questions, grasp and move objects and move around independently in the same way a person does

Michael Rosmarin, group executive and chief operating officer at Stockland, said they are using Chip to pilot practical applications of technology that are available today, with much longer term thinking about what the future might hold for their customers.

“Our shoppers have already demonstrated their desire for a more tech-integrated experience through their adoption of new digital channels and tools,” he said.

“Properly leveraged, the capabilities of robots can enhance the overall customer experience,” Rosmarin said.

According to Angus Nardi, executive director of Shopping Centre Council of Australia, the retail industry is often at the forefront of new technology.

“In the ever-changing retail landscape, technology is increasingly critical to drive innovation, efficiency and customer-engagement,” Nardi said. “Stockland’s investment in this initiative demonstrates that our sector is proactive, embraces change and is giving strategic thought to the opportunities that technology can provide.”

img_4817Earlier this year, Stockland announced an Australian first partnership with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to gain insights into potential applications, impacts and commercial, ethical and practical challenges of social robotics.

As part of the corporate-academic partnership, students from five leading Australian technology universities (QUT, UTS, RMIT, University of SA and Curtin University) have been provided access to the advanced social robotics technology in Chip, along with the opportunity to run experiments and conduct research in real-life settings and support with research resources.

“As Australia’s largest diversified property company we are working to further understand the opportunities of this new disruptive technology and how we can integrate the technology into the future of our business,” Rosmarin said.

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