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Amazon launches Astro home robot, voice assistant

Astro is Amazon’s first attempt at a home robot designed to be a roving smart platform for Alexa. Source: Reuters/Guardian.

SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon.com has announced a household, canine-like robot called Astro that can autonomously drive around your home packed with cameras and a screen.

The home robot is designed to take up tasks such as home monitoring, setting up routines and reminders, and can play music and TV shows while rolling around the house.

Astro can map your home’s layout, recognise objects and check on loved ones and pets remotely using a series of cameras and a display on its front, featuring a set of expressive animated eyes. The robot can handle video calls, recognising you and coming to find you when someone calls, and provides all the features of Alexa on wheels.

Dave Limp, head of Amazon’s devices and services, said “customers don’t just want Alexa on wheels so we’ve embodied it with a unique persona that’s all its own”.

It can stop immediately if something suddenly moves in front of it, such as a pet, or when encountering stairs. Owners can set up out-of-bounds areas and turn off cameras and mics, while LED lights and the screen show when someone is viewing the robot’s cameras.

The device, which has digital eyes on a rotating screen mounted on wheels, is available at an introductory invite-only price of $999.99 and regular price of $1,449.99. Astro also processes images and sensor data on the device to help preserve privacy.

The Echo Show 15 can be mounted on a wall. Source: The Verge.
The Echo Show 15 can be mounted on a wall. Source: The Verge.

Echo Show 15

Amazon also launched a super-sized version of its smart display with a 15.6in screen designed to be wall-mounted. Among other launches in its latest lineup were a smart thermostat, smart display Echo Show 15 and a new health-tracking band called Halo View.

The Echo Show 15 can be mounted on a wall and is powered with AZ2 Neural Edge, a processor that helps users personaliae the screen. In its push to appeal to the next generation of customers – kids – the company introduced Amazon Glow, a gadget for playing games, reading or drawing while on a video call.

In its partnership with Disney, it will launch an Alexa-powered voice assistant at Disney’s theme park hotels, along with a paid feature that lets customers interact with Disney characters at home. The feature is expected to launch next year and will let users interact with Disney characters with the ‘Hey, Disney!’ voice command.

Amazon has launched a number of new gadgets every year, including sunglasses with voice control and an in-home drone, that have not become massive sellers. Devices make up for a fraction of Amazon’s overall sales.