The robots are coming. US-based DIY retailer Lowe's will be utilising autonomous retail service robots in-store later this year.

Lowe's Innovation Labs team has developed the technology with the aim of helping make customers' shopping experiences more efficient. The robots will also aid shoppers in navigating stores and provide instant access to information about home improvement projects.

As an initial test to see how robotics technology can benefit customers and employees, the new innovation, called OSHbot, will be trialled in a Lowe's-owned Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, California, during the forthcoming holiday season.

See the technology in action in this YouTube video, below

Concerns may be raised about what the development of robots in a store environment means for the future of retail employees, particularly as the OSHbot will also soon be able to communicate with customers in multiple languages and remotely connect with expert staff at other Orchard stores to answer specific project questions.

The Lowe's innovation team, however, argues that the robots will provide store employees with "an additional layer of support" by helping customers with simple questions and giving the human workforce more time for them to focus on delivering project expertise.

Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, commented: "Using science fiction prototyping, we explored solutions to improve customer experiences by helping customers quickly find the products and information they came in looking for.

"As a result we developed autonomous retail service robot technology to be an intuitive tool customers can use to ask for help, in their preferred language, and expect a consistent experience."

The OSHbot incorporates scanning technology first developed for the Lowe's Holoroom home improvement simulator. Customers may bring to a store a spare part and they can then scan the object using OSHbot's 3D sensing camera to find out where similar product lines are in the shop.

Lowe's innovation team worked with Fellow Robots, a Silicon Valley technology company, to bring the concept to life. The partnership was initiated through SU Labs, a Singularity University business innovation acceleration programme.

What do you think? We are keen to hear the industry's views on the Lowe's retail service robots. What does it mean for retail employment and will it improve customer service? Please feel free to comment below or contact us on Twitter @EssRetail