How robots will change the way you shop in Qld

ROBOTS will replace retail assistants, determine what you need and do your shopping, and home deliver as part of a future where food will be 3D printed, experts say.

And the hallmark of exclusive up-market stores will be those where humans serve you, with the uptake of robots in retail in the next few years making a live assistant a rarity.

QUT consumer behaviour experts Professor Gary Mortimer and Dr Kate Letheren will discuss the future of robots, artificial intelligence and the "the internet of Things" at the biennial Robotronica festival, celebrating technology and innovation at QUT Gardens Point on Sunday.

Dr Letheren said robots will deliver groceries and other purchases to homes, while your fridge will know what items you need and reorder for you.

"In the more distant future we will be 3D printing our food, but that's further off at this stage."

Consumer behaviour expert Dr Kate Letheren said one day robots will know more about you than you do. Picture: Peter Wallis
Consumer behaviour expert Dr Kate Letheren said one day robots will know more about you than you do. Picture: Peter Wallis

Dr Letheren said in-home service AI like Alexa and Siri will be further developed to personalise your experience, which might unsettle some people.

"One day, you'll come home and Siri will say: 'I see you've had a bad day' and your favourite music will be playing," she said.

Professor Gary Mortimer said Artificial Intelligence will gather supermarket data and personalise offers to consumers.

"For example, AI notes a person often buys Arborio rice, chicken stock, parmesan and chorizo and figures they regularly cook risotto but instead of offering a special on Arborio rice, it will go a step further and offer an Italian dessert such as tiramisu," Dr Mortimer said.

"Soon supermarket products will be internet of things-enabled so that we'll use our smartphones to scan an aisle for the best specials, or the low-calorie products.

"Behind the scenes, to meet the growing appetite for online grocery shopping, your fruit and veg as well as other food will be chosen and packed by vision-enabled robots."

Professor Gary Mortimer says Artificial Intelligence will gather supermarket data and personalise offers to consumers. Picture: File
Professor Gary Mortimer says Artificial Intelligence will gather supermarket data and personalise offers to consumers. Picture: File

But the robots in retail are unlikely to have a humanoid appearance.

"We'll have robots, more like moving posts, that will do mundane stuff scanning shelves to reorder stock and checking for 'price integrity' to avoid the annoying wait that results when you get to the checkout and an on-special item comes up as full price, and a person has to go and check the shelf price," he said.

"In hypermarkets or 'big box' stores with aisle upon aisle of stuff, you'll ask a robot where to find the Phillips screws or the copy paper."

This is part of the "uncanny valley effect" proposed by Professor Mori where people find human-looking robots "creepy" and "unsettling" but it won't stop there, Dr Letheren said.

"We will start to see this psychologically too, when your in-home service robot or your AI assistant knows more about you than you do.

"But people are more accepting of robots if they know they can set the rules about robots act, and if they know they are in control of the robot."