Amazon Astro: A robot with no cause?

Amazon has released its long-rumoured home robot “Astro”. The company has been working on this for the past four years. The 2-foot-tall, 20-pound robot features a 10-inch touchscreen, an array of sensors, cameras, and microphones, and can wheel around your home across many directions. Astro underscores Amazon’s approach to robotics, an area in which the company has long spent extensively as part of its warehouse network. Astro demonstrates Amazon’s commitment to pushing its devices and its services into every single corner of our homes. But, as lovely as it is, Astro is a robot without a cause, at least for the time being.

The Astro bot is powered by two Qualcomm chipsets that include artificial intelligence processing. Its operating system is a combination of FireOS and Linux. It features five motors for power and can carry a small payload on the back. Astro is powered by batteries, and when these run out, it returns to a permanent charging port. The bot’s array of sensors is even more reminiscent of a robot vacuum cleaner. Astro is outfitted with “ultrasonic sensors, time-of-flight cameras, and other imaging technologies that inform the robot about its environment and where it is heading.” Amazon has not revealed how many robot units it intends to make available to early customers, nor has it indicated when Astro will be accessible to the masses.