Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa has found its legs — or wheels — in Amazon Astro. As Amazon's entry into the field of consumer robotics, Astro is designed to watch and help its owners whenever its needed.
Amazon Astro robot announced
Announced yesterday, the Amazon Astro is powered by the tech giant's Alexa AI. The home assistant robot combines the company's artificial intelligence, cloud services and home security into one full package.
In a report by The Verge, Astro is described as being an impressive piece of kit. The device can map out a house and recognise its floor plan, allowing you to tell it to go to a specific room. Its face is based on the existing Echo smart displays, allowing it to show you the weather. Additionally, the screen can be combined with the device’s mic and cameras array for video calls.
Furthermore, Amazon Astro will monitor your house while you're away. Paired with Ring home security, the device can inform you of intruders. Additionally, it can use a periscope camera to check if you've accidentally left the stove on.
For friendliness, Astro has a digital “face” to make it look less creepy. While following you around, the robot will stare at you with huge, soulless eyes. Astro’s head will also tilt and serve to look at you when it's talking to you.
It has an issue with stairs
Amazon Astro can’t climb stairs. The robot moves around on a couple of wheels driven by motors. Without legs or some hench arms, the device will strictly be a ground floor robot. On the other hand, you could pick it up and take it upstairs or downstairs if you want.
In another Verge report, multiple developers have started that the Astro is not ready for release. One dev described the robot as a “disaster”, another simply called it “terrible”. The robot appears to be suicidal with one developer saying it would “throw itself down” stairs.
Amazon Astro’s facial recognition feature is also reportedly broken. If the device doesn't recognise a person, the robot will constantly file them. The issue: the robot oftentimes won't recognise people that it is supposed to know.
As for privacy concerns, the Amazon robot is “always watching”. The Verge reports that one Astro developer familiar with its systems believes the robot is “a privacy nightmare”.
Amazon Astro will roll out in America later this year. Those who are invited to the “Day 1 Editions program” will get the robot for $999.99. Otherwise, it'll cost $1,499.99.