ABB Robotics has teamed up with Bloomingdale’s to showcase human-robot collaboration at the retailer’s flagship store on 59th Street. ABB robots are featured in three of Bloomingdale’s 12 holiday window displays at Lexington and Third Avenue, as ABB shows the potential for its robotics and automation technologies to help “revolutionize visual merchandising and make the retail experience more dynamic and whimsical.”
The company worked with long-time creative partner Andy Flessas, aka andyRobot, to provide Bloomingdale’s shoppers with a unique visual experience and to explore how robotics technologies could be applied in retail environments.
Tree trimming, karaoke
In one window, four ABB robots work together to create an “Autonomous Christmas Tree Decorating” display. Two floor-mounted and two ceiling-mounted IRB 120 robots coordinate movements to pass 20 gold ornaments to each other, placing them on branches, before stripping the tree and starting the 30-minute process over again.
The second window is a “Festive Orchestra”, in which four ABB IRB 1200 robots play brass shakers, a tambourine, a concert chime and a futuristic digital xylophone to entertain shoppers with a range of Christmas carols. Visitors can interact with the robots to choose from three songs – “Deck The Halls”, “Jingle Bells,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, while pressing a button on the window that takes a picture of the visitors that appears on a video monitor behind the robot band inside the window display.
The third display features a “RoboScreen Christmas Carol Karaoke” window, in which choppers can select from a range of holiday songs, with lyrics appearing on three moving 38-inch graphical screens attached to the arms of three ABB IRB 120 robots. The RoboScreens, patented by andyRobot, bring highly coordinated six-axis motion to video displays.
Inside the store, ABB has a demonstration of its dual-arm collaborative YuMI robot, which serves shoppers a choice of coffee. Designed to work safely alongside humans, the YuMi robot automates the entire brewing process, from handling and loading a selected drink pod, to serving the hot beverage and disposing the used capsule for recycling.
“We are excited to be part of such an iconic celebration as shoppers in New York kick off the holiday season. As well as bringing some festive cheer to Bloomingdales’ customers, we are showcasing how robotics and automation technology could help revitalize the retail experience,” said Marc Segura, ABB’s Global Head of Service Robotics. “Our demonstrations in Bloomingdales show how robotics can make visual merchandising more dynamic and engaging. In the future, retailers could use robotics to create innovative mediums to interact with customers, demonstrate products and engage at the point-of-sale with far more appeal and relevance than traditional static point-of-sale displays.”
ABB said all of the robots are being monitored 24 hours a day from its team in the company’s Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters, using its ABB Ability Connected Services technology. The system can remotely monitor and analyze intelligence directly from the robots, allowing ABB technicians to identify and address potential issues that could lead to unplanned stoppages before they occur.
ABB Robotics, one of the world’s leading robotics suppliers, is active in 53 countries and more than 100 locations, with more than 400,000 robot solutions and applications deployed.