Amazon‘s Astro Robot, which can patrol the home autonomously and respond to voice instructions, will cost $1,000 for invited customers later this year. It is the company’s first effort into mobile robots for the house, and it is unlikely to be it’s last.
Amazon introduced Astro, a house robot with a screen on wheels that interacts with the company’s Alexa speech software, on Tuesday.
The bot, which Bloomberg first reported was under development in 2018, was demonstrated at an Amazon product event on Tuesday, checking on pets while a user was gone and following a youngster about the house during a video chat. It can patrol the house automatically and answer voice instructions, and will cost $1,000 for invited consumers later this year.
The device’s display, which by default shows a pair of circles to simulate eyeballs, has a speed of roughly a metre per second. Embedded cameras assist the robot in mapping its surroundings and navigating, and Astro also has a periscope to broaden its range of view.
“Customers don’t just want Alexa on wheels,” said Amazon’s devices and services head, Dave Limp. “We imbued it with a distinct identity all its own.”
Limp said that the robot is part of an Amazon initiative that makes products that are still in development available. Later this year, Astro will be marketed on an invitation-only basis.
Since a disastrous venture into cell phones a few years ago, the Seattle-based firm has come a long way as a hardware player. Amazon has developed a large electronics industry around its voice-controlled Echo smart speakers and the Alexa software that goes with them.
To put itself at the heart of the expanding market for smart-home gadgets, Amazon has staged new product unveilings in each of the previous three years.
The firm does not provide financial or operational statistics for its devices and services division, although Euromonitor International says Amazon’s gadget line is the third-best-selling brand in the United States by unit sales, following only Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.
The great bulk of the items, on the other hand, are low-cost gadgets like Fire TV streaming sticks or tiny Echo speakers. Amazon, a corporation known for its flimsy and utilitarian technology, has pushed itself to the ultimate test with Astro: offering a superior product at an exorbitant price.
Several additional upgrades unveiled by Amazon on Tuesday, ranging from professional monitoring of Ring video cameras to an elder care application and new Alexa voices, were aimed at adding paid or subscription services to Amazon’s popular goods.
Despite failing to develop a smartphone line, the Seattle-based company has created a large consumer electronics industry on its voice-controlled Echo smart speakers and associated Alexa software. Other popular items include Fire TV streaming sticks and home security devices from Ring, a Southern California-based smart doorbell manufacturer that Amazon purchased in 2018. To put itself at the heart of the expanding market for smart-home gadgets, Amazon has staged new product unveilings in each of the previous three years.
Astro Your Go-To Companion
Amazon.com Inc. revealed one of its worst-kept secrets this week: it will begin selling a home robot.
For over four years, the business has been working on this, and it has ambitions for Astro. It’s simply not sure what they are yet, so it’s only providing the robot by invitation, hoping that thousands of early adopters can help clarify what it’s for. The 2-foot-tall, 20-pound robot features a 10-inch touchscreen, an array of sensors, cameras, and microphones, and can spin about your home in many directions. It costs $1,000.
Astro demonstrates Amazon’s commitment to robots, an area in which the firm has long spent extensively as part of its warehouse system. However, the specifics were kept under wraps until Tuesday, when Amazon Astro made its formal debut at a webcast for media and analysts.
Astro is stubby, standing little about a foot and a half tall, and resembles a tablet on wheels. Its screen defaults to a pair of circles designed to suggest the eyes. The rationale is: An Amazon designer revealed with machine-like precision that 95 of humanity’s 100 most beloved fictional robots have eyes.
Astro can also patrol autonomously for those who are concerned about security. A built-in camera is placed atop a periscope that can be extended upward a couple of feet for recon from a higher current perspective.
If everything else fails, Astro includes two cupholders.
Of course, some people may find a home security bot disturbing. Not everyone wants to surprise Grandma with a moving iPad. It’s also pricey. The pricing will begin at $1,000 for those invited to buy through Amazon’s beta testing programme and will rise to $1,500 for those who purchase after the device’s as-yet-unspecified launch date. If you’re not sold on the surveillance features, that’s a pricey beer koozie.
One thing is certain about the Astro: it is fast. According to the Amazon maxim, speed counts in business. Occasionally, the utility follows. Amazon’s cloud computing branch, for example, was created in obsessive secrecy before it became a huge wealth generator. Amazon developed a robot because it could, utilising all of its technologists’ predicting abilities. The firm will soon discover whether its future vision was correct.
The Astro bot is equipped with two Qualcomm chipsets that include artificial intelligence processing. Its operating system is a combination of FireOS and Linux. It features five motors for propulsion and can carry a modest cargo on the rear (anything that weighs less than 5 pounds).
It has the appearance of a simple tablet, but this is where you can swipe or touch your way through instructions or video conversations without relying on voice control. It’s also home to Astro’s eyes, which are intended to give it more life than the cold, glass screens we’re used to. Alexa is also incorporated into Astro, so you can use it to make dad jokes to your heart’s delight.
Initial reports compared it to a robot vacuum cleaner, and they are correct, without the entire cleaning-your-house bit. Astro is powered by batteries and, when they run out, returns to a fixed recharge port. The bot’s array of sensors is even more reminiscent of a robot vacuum cleaner: According to The Verge, Astro is equipped with “ultrasonic sensors, time-of-flight cameras, and other imaging technologies that help the robot know what’s around it and where it’s going.” It also features a periscope camera that protrudes from the bot’s top.