In an article, Amazon’s Vice President of Products, Charlie Tritschler has introduced Astro, the company’s “new and different kind of robot”. The home robot is designed to help customers with a range of tasks like home monitoring and keeping in touch with family.
Amazon has not revealed the robot’s detailed specifications but notes that it brings together “new advancements in artificial intelligence, computer vision, sensor technology, and voice and edge computing in a package that’s designed to be helpful and convenient”.
However, the company has revealed that Astro uses advances in simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) to help the robot understand where it is and autonomously navigate around home environments that constantly change.
Astro can move autonomously around the home, navigate to check in on specific areas, show a live view of rooms through the Astro app, or send alerts if it detects an unrecognized person. With Alexa Guard, Astro can also detect the sound of a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, or glass breaking, and send an alert to phones.
Other home-based applications include asking Astro to set and deliver reminders, which Amazon says can help those remotely caring for elderly relatives and loved ones. It also uses Amazon’s Alexa, meaning it can provide information, entertainment, smart home control, and more whilst following the user around the home.
After feedback from hundreds of internal testers, the company has given the bot a design and personality that it says makes regular interactions more “delightful”. Astro uses its digital eyes on its rotating screen, body movements, and tones to communicate and is based on film, TV, games, and animation principles to develop a persona that makes it “unique”.
With facial recognition products and questions around privacy currently in the limelight, Amazon has included “multiple safety features, and layers of privacy and security” for its home robot to “keep you in control of your experience and keep your data safe”.
These features include safety sensors to prevent crashes, on-device processing, out of bounds zones for privacy, the option to turn the microphones and cameras off and an LED light on top of its periscope to let users know when it’s streaming video or audio to the cloud.
Tritschler states that “Astro has gone through hundreds of thousands of hours of internal testing with Amazon employees—both in offices and homes across the country. During my own time with Astro, I’ve thought of lots of new things for it to do—and I’m confident that customers will have even more ideas we haven’t thought of (yet)”.
That’s why Amazon is offering Astro as part of its “Day 1 Editions”, a program that gives customers access to the company’s most “ambitious ideas”. It also gives customers who sign up the chance to request an invite when Astro starts shipping.
The home robot will cost $1,449.99 (€1,252.30), but as part of the Day 1 Editions program, it will be available for an introductory price of $999.99 (€863.79) with a six-month trial of the Ring Protect Pro subscription included. Astro will be available in limited quantities, and Amazon plans to start granting invitations and shipping devices to customers in the U.S. later this year.
You can find more information about Amazon and Astro its home robot on its website.
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