'Chip' robot greets customers in Sydney shopping centre

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'Chip' robot greets customers in Sydney shopping centre
Chip in action.

Stockland's first trial of humanoid assistant.

Property developer Stockland this week completed its first trial of a humanoid robot in its Merrylands shopping centre in western Sydney.

'Chip' is a 1.7m tall, 100kg robot owned by the Commonwealth Bank and developed by Spanish firm PAL Robotics. It boasts a 12.1 inch touchscreen and a mix of cameras, lasers, ultrasounds, microphones and speakers that allow it to recognise faces, have conversations, answer questions, move around, and handle objects.

It is being used by Stockland to assist customers and retailers with things like food sampling and directions, as well as greeting shoppers upon entry to the centre.

Down the track the company plans to develop "further sophisticated applications" for Chip, like helping elderly customers carry their goods to their car.

“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," Michael Rosmarin, Stockland chief operating officer said in a statement.

Stockland first announced its Chip partnership with CBA and several Australian universities in August this year. It is intended to work through the technology's potential applications, as well as the ethical, commercial and practical implications of social robotics.

Students from five universities have been provided access to Chip's technology to run experiments and conduct research from within CBA's Sydney innovation lab.

Rosmarin said the company could expand its use of Chip outside of shopping centres and across its property portfolio in areas including business parks, logistics facilities, and potentially its residential and retirement living communities.

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