Pepper the robot handles customer service at Palo Alto store

It's a look at what the future holds for retail stores. A lifelike robot greeted and interacted with customers Thursday night at a store in Palo Alto. It made its first public appearance in the United States. So far, it's only been released in Japan and Europe.

Standing at four feet tall, it looks and acts like a human. It even moves and dances. "Pepper" is developed by Softbank Robotics. It's designed to entertain customers at retail stores and later on, be programmed to answer questions including where to find products. Its first stop consumer electronics store B8ta in Palo Alto.

"I think people gravitate towards Pepper because Pepper is really friendly and once you interact with Pepper it makes you smile," said Judy Ly of Softbank Robotics.

Powered by a 12-hour battery, its eyes serve as cameras so it reacts to facial expressions, sensing when a customer is happy or sad.

"Pretty intriguing, pretty interesting it seems fairly lifelike for a robot," said Robert Scheffel of Palo Alto.

"It's got kind of a creepy side," said Christian Hammond of Palo Alto. "It's this robot that you are talking to that knows how you feel but I also think it's new."

"I just like she's basically a kid that can move and talk," said Jack Davis-Wilson, a 7-year-old boy from Mountain View.

It's the latest in the evolution of robots to engage with people. A Medi robot brings comfort to patients at a Florida Hospital and Knightscope's robots offer security at Stanford Shopping Center.

"For us, it wasn't about replacing a human with a robot," said B8ta CEO/Co-Founder Vibhu Norby. "It was just people bringing into the store and interacting with something that's super friendly, doesn't have opinions and just happy to be here."

B8ta understands with robots comes a concern of replacing salespeople. For now, the store's CEO said, it's a tool to augment human workers.