Amazon is (literally) rolling out a robot that can help monitor your home. Powered by Amazon Alexa and a ton of artificial intelligence (AI) technology as it patrols a set of wheels, the Astro robot can handle anything from providing a view of the house when you’re out and about to delivering a message to your mother.
The robot bears the same name as the dog the Jetsons, but his simple face, rolling mechanism and, of course, advanced technology, make him much more like Rosey. Amazon’s Astro relies on AI, sensors, computer vision, and voice and edge computing to run a variety of workloads.
For example, Astro can roll through your house and give you a live view of what it sees. That means you can monitor your pet, watch out for intruders, or make sure you turn off the oven. Astro is mobile thanks to a technology Amazon has called Intelligent Motion. It uses simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) to make sure Astro finds its way without bumping into anything, 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 goes off or when broken glass is detected.
A computer vision technology called Visual ID allows Astro to recognize specific members of your family so it can deliver messages and reminders correctly. It can even bring someone the remote (or other object). Just drop it into Astro’s cargo bed and it will recognize the right person to deliver it.
Astro is also like having Alexa on the go. As the robot follows you, you can use it for everyday tasks, such as controlling your smart home or playing a show on Amazon Prime.
But one of the things that will reportedly make Astro feel close to the home robot type The Jetsons got us excited for his attempt at having a “personality”. In a blog post, Amazon said it “used feedback from hundreds of in-house testers and also drew inspiration from film, TV, games and animation principles to develop a persona” for the machine. That personality is embodied by “digital eyes on the rotating screen, body movements and expressive tones to communicate.”
Astro will eventually be available for $1,449.99. However, there is an introductory price of $999.99 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 invite participants to buy Astro in the US “later this year.”
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