Astro, Amazon’s robot, Is Still Not Ready For Prime Time

Tech, Amazon

(CTN News) _ At Amazon’s press event today, it revealed the Kindle Scribe, Eero’s mesh network extension with Echo, and updated Echo Dot and Studio speakers.

Also discussed last year was the Amazon Astro robot with a digital smile, camera, and microphone.

However, a year after its initial announcement, Astro remains an invite-only experimental product.

It has Alexa, a smart display, microphones, speakers, night-vision LEDs, a periscope camera, a cupholder, and visual simultaneous location and mapping (V-SLAM) to navigate around people’s homes and unexpected obstacles.

To buy the bot, you need an invite. Ars Technica reported that Amazon sends out invites “fairly regularly.”

It looks like Amazon is accepting invites while developing new features ahead of mass availability. Astro didn’t get any updates at Amazon’s event today.

Amazon wouldn’t get more specific than “as soon as possible” when Ars Technica asked about general availability.

There’s a new pet-detection feature that sounds good. While patrolling your house, Astro can send you a short video of your pet.

You can also appear on Astro’s display if your pet misses you or needs a familiar voice.

You can also train Astro to find windows and doors in your house, so it can alert you if they’re open or closed when they shouldn’t be.

Astro will send you a picture and text if something’s wrong, even if you’re not home. Astro can also check a window or door you taught it about.

Dual-modality AI works by Astro looking at the object and you describing it. It lets you tell it if it got something wrong, so it can fix it.

In the next step, Amazon Devices and Services will start identifying furniture and pet food bowls.

However, Amazon will continue testing Astro in a new market: small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

With Astro, Amazon hopes to appeal to SMBs with physical security concerns. Astro works with Amazon’s Ring security cameras.

Based on its website, Astro will roll over to an intrusion location if the Ring uses Virtual Security Guard.

According to Washington’s blog, it can then talk to “professional monitoring agents” via video and voice.

The feature will be tested with a small group of business customers “in the coming months.

” However, if successful, it could appeal to the most cautious residential customers as well.

A tech giant and an ecosystem of compatible products make Astro one of the most easily available consumer robots.

However, Astro’s reviews this year suggest there’s plenty of work to be done before expecting such a successful launch.