Robot Helps Grandma Shop

Robovie helping your grandma with her shopping? What could be more adorable!

Robovie is a three-foot-tall robot developed by Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International. ATR is testing a special version of their robot at the Apita-Seikadai supermarket in Kyoto until March 2010. Robovie and its associated system also monitors your Grandma's health and even suggests specific dishes to improve health.

Shoppers begin by using a special menu-driven device to select items for purchase. Then, when the shopper arrives at the store, the robot and the device communicate with each other. Now, Robovie knows what you want to purchase.

In a demonstration video, the child-sized robot goes with a 67-year-old woman while she shops for mandarin oranges and broccoli. Robovie cheerfully carries the shopping basket and reminds her to get the mandarin oranges, recommends the apples, reminds her to get the broccoli, and suggests including lettuce in her salad along with the broccoli that is already on the list. Tthe robot also takes care to state how delicious the items look.

I'd be appreciative of a robot that reminded me about what I had decided to buy; I'm not so sure about a robot that tried to "upsell" me once I got in the store.

Fans of Philip K. Dick have been cringing from this possible future since the publication of his short story Sales Pitch in 1954. In the story, robot salesmen are everywhere.

Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing, pleading, shrilling. One started after him and he quickened his pace. It scurried along, chanting its pitch and trying to attract his attention, all the way up the hill to his living-unit. It didn't give up until he stooped over, snatched up a rock, and hurled it futilely. He scrambled in the house and slammed the doorlock after him. The robot hesitated, then turned and raced after a woman with an armload of packages toiling up the hill. She tried vainly to elude it, without success. (Read more about sales robots)

Source: Robot Watch.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.