Amazon is rolling out (literally) a robot that can help monitor your home. Powered by Amazon Alexa and a bunch of artificial intelligence (AI) technology while patrolling about on a set of wheels, the Astro robot can handle numerous tasks, from providing a view of inside the home when you’re out to delivering a message to Mom.
The robot carries the same name as the dog from The Jetsons, but its simple face, rolling mechanism and, of course, advanced tech, make it much more similar to Rosey. Amazon’s Astro relies on AI, sensors, computer vision, and voice and edge computing to perform various workloads.
For example, Astro can roll around your home and give you a live view of what it sees. That means you can check on your pet, look out for intruders, or make sure you turned the oven off. Astro is mobile thanks to a technology Amazon has dubbed Intelligent Motion. It uses simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) to ensure Astro makes its way around without crashing into stuff—even if someone forgot something on the floor that wasn’t there before.
You can also set Astro to provide helpful alerts, such as when a smoke alarm is going off or if broken glass is detected.
A computer vision technology called visual ID allows Astro to recognize specific members of your family, so it can properly deliver messages and reminders. It can even bring someone the remote (or another object). Just drop it in Astro’s cargo bin, and it’ll recognize the right person to deliver it to.
Astro is also like having Alexa on the go. As the robot follows you around, you can use it for everyday jobs, like controlling your smart home or playing a show off Amazon Prime.
But one of the things that will reportedly make Astro feel close to the type of home robot The Jetsons made us excited for is its attempt at having a “personality.” In a blog post, Amazon said it used “feedback from hundreds of internal testers, and also took inspiration from film, TV, games, and animation principles to develop a persona” for the machine. That personality is embodied through “digital eyes on its rotating screen, body movements, and expressive tones to communicate.”
Astro will ultimately be available for $1,449.99. However, there’s a $999.99 introductory price as part of Amazon’s Day 1 Editions early access program, and that includes a six-month trial of Ring Protect Pro. Amazon plans to start inviting participants to buy Astro in the US “later this year.”
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