Amazon unveils Astro, an Alexa-enabled home robot on wheels - MrLiambi's blog


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Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Amazon unveils Astro, an Alexa-enabled home robot on wheels

Wrapping up its slate of new announcements, Amazon revealed a robot during its September 2021 hardware event. Amazon believes, in five to 10 years, every home will have a robot. With that in mind, it unveiled Astro.


Amazon has described Astro as a "new kind of household robot that integrates Alexa, advanced hardware, software, computer vision, and AI". It even equipped Astro with what it calls a "unique persona", which includes a tonne of sounds, eyes on the display, and wheels to move around.

Astro is kind of reminiscent of WALL-E, but it's built on top of Fire OS and Linux, making it more of a Fire tablet on wheels. 


Astro features a periscope camera, which you can use to see through its own "eyes". Imagine you're away from home and want to check if you left the stove running or the curling iron on in the bathroom. With an included app, you can do just that - and you can send Astro to check on "specific rooms, things, people, and even pets", Amazon said. The camera is on a retractable pole, too, so it can be used to see things high and low. 

You can also combine Astro with Amazon's Ring Protect Pro program to unlock the ultimate home monitoring experience.

"When you're away, you can use it to proactively patrol your home, investigate activity, and send you notifications when it detects something unusual", according to Amazon. You will also have the option to save any videos of your home and potential instances to your Ring account.

There are other use-cases for Astro, as well. Amazon mentioned you could call your parent who owns an Astro, and it will go find them to deliver the call. In fact, if you're doing a video call, Astro will move with you around the house. Another cool trick, if you're using Astro to monitor an aging parent or relative, is that you can set up a Routine that sends you a message when your loved on gets up and is roaming around the house. 

If you're worried about privacy, you can always set out-of-bounds zones to designate areas where you don't want Astro to go. It even has a "do not disturb" function. Astro also features AI processors to enable edge computing for many tasks. That means, theoretically, a lot of your data and information will be processed locally on Astro and not sent to the cloud where it could be potentially hacked and accessed by third parties.

Finally, Astro can do typical things like any Alexa-enabled Echo device. It offers Alexa, so you can use it to access music, news, podcasts, and timers. Oh, and it has a compartment area. It's capable of carrying 4.4lbs (2kg) of cargo. There's a 15-watt USB-C port that you can use to charge your phone, too.


If this interests you, Astro will have an introductory price of $999.99, which includes a six-month trial of Ring Protect Pro. It's available via invite-only, and Amazon said its price will go up to $1,449.99 once it has a broader release.


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