Amazon is launching its very first household security robot. Astro, which will be powered by Alexa, is a surveillance robot that can be controlled via smartphone, in and out of the house.
Programmed with cameras and advanced face detection technology, the robot can automatically patrol the house to detect any intruders. It’s also set to retail at $999.
Astro has cameras that can broadcast a live feed directly to one’s smartphone. Even when you’re not worried about intruders, these features could come in handy for more functional issues, like if you can’t remember if you left the stove running at home.
Astro also comes with a ton of functionalities. You can turn the cameras on or off, set out-of-bounds zones in the house so it knows not to go inside certain rooms and areas, as well as a “do not disturb” mode.
While it is quite small in size and resembles a robotic puppy, Astro comes with a periscope camera for increased surveillance on all parts of a room.
With the popularity of robotic vacuums and appliances in consumers’ everyday lives, it’s no surprise Amazon wants to dip their toe in the rapidly growing market. Analysts have applauded this move, saying it’s a step in the right direction for Amazon.
“Astro is a bold move by Amazon, but a logical step given its expertise in robots and desire to become more integrated into consumers’ daily lives,” said to CCS Insight Chief Analyst Ben Wood.
“Offering products resembling something from a science fiction novel positions Amazon as an innovative company in the eyes of consumers and investors.“
However, not everyone is pleased by the conglomerate’s latest launch. Critics point back to Amazon’s sketchy history when it comes to home security devices, such as their hackable security cameras and even racially biased facial recognition technology. Then there’s the question as to how well Astro’s technology actually works, considering it’s reliant on its facial recognition systems.
Despite this, Amazon still maintains to be generally favored by the American public as one of the most trusted tech brands in the country. The company is set to launch Astro in the United States later in the year. After its initial run, it plans to increase the price to $1,499.
It’s also pretty dead-set on making Astro a part of every American’s household. Cute as Astro may be, however, the public might not yet be ready to spend so much on these little robots — as seen in the subpar sales of SoftBank’s Pepper.
This isn’t the first time Amazon has made headlines with their launches. In 2018 they announced an Alexa-controlled microwave, and in 2020 a flying indoor drone that functions as an alarm for intruders. However, the Always Home Cam never became publicly available, and instead has a limited release via invite.
This year’s launch saw plenty of new products in addition to Astro. The newest is Amazon Glow, a device made for video calling that also features a 19-inch projected touchscreen that children can engage with while on a long call.
Other launches include upgrades to previously existing technology such as the Amazon Halo, a new Ring model, and a virtual security guard subscription for the smart alarm.