Nestle’s Robot Salesclerks Named Pepper

We’ve been keeping an eye on the list of occupations expected to be replaced by robots in the next decade.   Loan officers are pretty much doomed, as are bartenders, security guards, fast food workers, and — as we can see here — retail workers.

Lowe’s has been trying out robots with large screens that can confirm the item the customer is asking for, and then lead the shopper to the location. pretty straightforward, and the robot is not really humanoid.

The robot shown above with the conversational style and friendly gestures, is Pepper. Nestle has hired — er, bought — a thousand of these for the Japanese market. They’re all named Pepper.

Pepper sells coffee machines. Maker Softbank claims that Pepper can understand 80% of human conversations, recognize human emotions, and pick out just the right coffeemaker for every customer. Pepper can also answer questions and play games.

Harvard Business Review recently reported that about half of American shoppers believe that their phones provide better information than sales clerks. 61% of retail managers agree. So from the consumer’s point of view, robotic sales staff would be no loss.

Retail sales clerks make, on average, about $21,000 per year, about half what the average manufacturing job pays. So from the point of view of the sales clerk, it might not be much of a loss either. Programs to retrain sales clerks to manufacture robots sound like a possible plan.

If your Indramat or Indradrive components are causing you trouble, your best plan is to call us. We have the largest supply of emergency replacement units in the country, and we’re happy to charter a flight to bring the right one to you.

Chances are, no robot will be doing that any time soon.

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