TECH NEWS – Amazon unveils Astro, its first household robot powered by Alexa’s smart home technology. For now, it will only be available in the US.
The company says Astro can be remotely controlled to check on pets, people or home security. It can also automatically patrol the home and notify owners if it detects anything unusual.
Amazon says it’s more than “Alexa on wheels”; it’s even programmed with different gestures and expressions to give it personality. Astro was asked to “beatbox” at the demonstration, and the robot nodded its head and danced to it, playing hip-hop beats.
Amazon also tried to pre-empt privacy concerns. The company says you can set “no-go zones” so the robot can’t go into certain areas or set a “do not disturb” feature. It also has buttons to turn off cameras and microphones – although activating these will cause it to lose its ability to move.
The little robot is also equipped with a retractable “periscope” camera that pops out of its head. Amazon showed an example of checking if the gas cooker had been left on after leaving the house. The technology and retail giant says the $999.99 robot could be a help to the elderly.
“Astro is a bold but logical move on Amazon’s part, given its expertise in robotics and its desire to become even more integrated into consumers’ everyday lives,” said Ben Wood, senior analyst at CCS Insight. He said that Amazon is “willing to launch highly experimental products” and see how customers react, unlike its rivals.
“Offering products like science fiction novels positions Amazon as an innovative company in the eyes of consumers and investors alike,” he argued. The robot will be delivered this year, Amazon says – but only in the US. And after an initial limited run, the price will rise to $1,449.99, they said. “I believe the Astro robot will sell out in minutes when it becomes available in the US market,” Mr Wood added.
Source: BBC News
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