Stockland is pioneering the use of robotics within a retail environment, today conducting its first test case of human-robot interaction at Stockland Merrylands shopping centre in western Sydney.
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 and welcoming customers to the centre.
In the future Stockland hopes 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 assisting an elderly customer by carrying their groceries to their car.
Michael Rosmarin, Group Executive and Chief Operating Officer at Stockland, said: “We’re using Chip to pilot practical applications of technology that is available today with much longer term thinking about what the future might hold for our customers. Today’s test case is just a glimpse into the possible opportunities for the future of retail in Australia.”
“Our shoppers have already demonstrated their desire for a more tech-integrated experience through their adoption of new digital channels and tools. Properly leveraged, the capabilities of robots can enhance the overall customer experience.”
The retail industry is often at the forefront of new technology, but with the constantly changing retail landscape, Executive Director of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia, Angus Nardi believes it is integral that Australian shopping centres continue to evolve and adapt to retailer, customer and global demands.
"In the ever-changing retail landscape, technology is increasingly critical to drive innovation, efficiency and customer-engagement. 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”, said Angus Nardi.
Earlier 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.
Michael Rosmarin continues, “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.”
“At Stockland, we believe there are a number of opportunities where this technology could be intelligently integrated into our Business Parks and Logistics facilities, Shopping Centres and, even possibly, our Residential and Retirement Living communities. We look forward to continuing the development of Chip and we are excited for what the future holds.”
* Chip 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 an open and 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. Chip is 1.7 metres tall, weighs 100 kilograms, has a 12.1” 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.