A robot in every house not too far? Welcome, Amazon Astro

Amazon is launching its version of house robot. Available on exclusive invitation as of now.

Amazon Astro is Amazon’s way of getting a robot in each household. Currently, produced in small quantities, it is available for people in the US exclusively with invitations.

Have you watched the movie Wall-E? It’s like that garbage robot. Just without the hands and much nicer looking

Amazon Astro. Source

Amazon is pushing Astro as a smart home surveillance robot but it’s more than that. Amazon Astro is basically an Alexa on wheels. It’s smart enough to move around the house by mapping the house layout.

Although, it should be noted that it cannot climb up or down the stairs. That’s a huge bummer for people living in multi-storeyed homes. But, it has some other cool features.

There are independent motors that drive its 12 inches main-drive wheels and one castor behind for stability and turning.

It also has a 12MP periscope that can extend up to a length of 42 inches. This lets it see over a standard table or any tall obstacle. One motor is used to lower or raise the periscope camera.

There are two more motors that help the face (the screen on top) twist, turn and tilt. The screen on the top also has a 5MP camera that can be used for making video calls or monitoring. The screen also has 2 circles that resemble eyes, making it more “robot-like” rather than just a device.

Astro has various sensors and cameras that help the home robot to navigate around the house, avoiding any obstacle or fall of the stairs. It uses advanced tools like ultrasonic sensors, time-of-flight sensors, etc. among other imaging tools.

Anatomy of Amazon’s Astro. Source

Using what Amazon calls “Intelligent Motion”, it moves around objects and stays clear of the high-traffic areas. It also docks itself to the charger when it detects low battery. Pretty nifty!

Astro also lets you remotely monitor your room from any internet-connected device. It can also send notifications if it detects unrecognised entry or hears something like breaking glass. It can also sound an alarm if you see something suspicious.

Given all this monitoring, some might be worried about privacy issues. Amazon says that the storage and processing of the maps of the house will be done locally on the device itself and the Astro can only be remotely connected to one phone to prevent any unauthorised access.

You also have the ability to define a boundary and a no-go zone, turn off the mics, camera at the touch of one button. You can also make it recognise your face with the help of a visual ID.

You can use Alexa to give commands to the Astro. Source

Although there are no hands on the Astro, it might not be able to pick up things for you and deliver them to you. But, In the back portion of the Astro, there is a small payload area that can carry cargo up to 2 kg. You can command it to deliver the cargo to someone in the house.

Without some kind of gimmicks, products like this are incomplete. It can play music, dance with you, mimic emotions with its “eyes” and it can follow you on your command.

There are lots of things that Astro can do but there are lots of things that Astro can’t do as well. It’s far from the home assistant like the robot we see in sci-fi movies but, it is one step closer. Astro is more of a home survellience robot than a robotic assistant.

This is Amazon’s attempt at running ahead in this particular segment. As of now, Astro is available to a few based on the exclusive invites. It is available at the invite-only price of $999.99 and the regular price of $1499.99.

It needs to be seen how much of a success this product will be. This could very well be the starting point of a Robot-human war or it could be just another gimmick. Only time will tell.