Suburban complexes in Sydney and Melbourne owned by property developer Stockland have just employed new shopping assistants to help the public with their Christmas shopping.
The shopping centres are sharing prototypes of a social humanoid robot called Chip. The 100-kilo, 1.7-metre tall robots are more than happy to help with your shopping; they were developed by Spanish company PAL Robotics and are owned by the Commonwealth Bank.
Each Chip is armed with a 12.1-inch touchscreen on its chest that can direct shoppers to stores that have sales, or show them the way to a particular shop. The robots also have the ability to carry shopping bags to the car.
Chip has myriad cameras, lasers, ultrasound scanners, microphones and speakers installed that help with face recognition, and allow the robots to have conversations and answer questions.
Stockland is the first company to use robotics in its shopping complexes in Australia, and the Merrylands centre in Western Sydney is the first to test the robot-human interaction.
Students from five leading Australian technology universities have also been granted access to the social robotics technology in Chip, and have been given the opportunity to run experiments and conduct research.
Robotic assistants are big business, with predictions being that the global robotics market will be worth AU$181 billion (US$135 billion) by 2019. Just a couple of months ago, JLL Australia introduced its newest robot receptionist called JiLL, a fully automated visitor management solution to greet visitors and couriers, and help staff with front-of-house tasks.