Amazon has taken a giant leap from home communication and security into the world of personal robotics. The Astro is a household robot with Alexa built in that can not only bring video calls and music to you but also check in on your home while you’re away and even help to care for elderly relatives. It’s somewhere between a Roomba, an Echo Show on wheels and Short Circuit’s Johnny Five.
Amazon’s virtual press event told of inspiration from science fiction robots and providing something that was more than just an Alexa on wheels. So, the Astro has its own personality and a new series of sounds and function. It has eyes on the screen, to make it more appealing and can even beat box, for some reason.
Astro can pro-actively patrol your home, checking on pre-assigned areas and traveling at up to one meter per second. It can then send you notifications or a live feed to wherever you are. It features Alexa Guard to detect certain sounds, such as glass breaking or a smoke alarm. Working with the Ring Protect Pro subscription service, it can travel to where a sensor is tripped and save clips to your Ring cloud storage.
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As well as a main screen and camera, Astro has a periscope camera to allow it to see things at greater heights – like the top of a stove or the shelves of a pantry. Astro can move autonomously through the home using simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) to avoid objects and locate its position. For privacy, you can set areas of your home as out of bounds and turn on a do not disturb function to limit where it can travel. You can also turn the microphones and cameras off at any time.
Of course, one of the biggest sells will be having Astro bring all the functions of an Echo Show to you, including following you around the house for video calls and coming to find you for notification alerts.
If you thought your pets were freaked out by a robo vac, wait till they get a load of Astro. Astro will cost $1,449.99 but will be a part of Amazon’s Day 1 editions program, where those that have signed up can get it for $999.99 with a six-month free trial of Ring Protect Pro.