Amazon Astro – an Alexa in robot form #Robotics #Alexa @Amazon @TheVerge

Amazon’s Astro is not a dog; instead, it’s the company’s long-rumored home assistant robot. Amazon denies taking inspiration for the name from The Jetsons cartoon series.

Astro stands roughly two feet high and weighs about 20 pounds. Its main drive wheels are about 12 inches in diameter, large enough to clear door thresholds and move through carpet, while a single caster in the back helps it keep balanced. The Astro can zip along at a top speed of one meter per second and it has the ability to move in 360 degrees, forward, back, or any direction it pleases.

Astro will initially cost $999.99 and will be available as a Day 1 Edition product that you can request an invite for the privilege of buying.  Amazon sees it as bringing together many different parts of the company — robotics, AI, home monitoring, cloud services — all into one device. Best described as the love child between a Roomba and an Echo Show smart display, the Astro is meant to be the next step in what Amazons believes to be the seemingly inevitable home robot.

Amazon claims the Astro can do a wide variety of things you might want from a home robot. It can map out your floor plan and obey commands to go to a specific room. It can recognize faces and deliver items to a specific person. It can play music and show you the weather and answer questions like any Echo smart display.

It can be used for video calls, always keeping you in frame by literally following your movements. It can roam around your house when you aren’t home, making sure everything is okay. It can raise its periscope camera to show you whether you’ve turned the stove off. It can use third-party accessories to record data like blood pressure.

To make up for its diminutive size, the Astro has a 12-megapixel periscope camera that can raise up to 42 inches high, enough to see over a typical counter or table (see below). This camera can be used for video calls or viewed through the accompanying phone app to see what’s happening inside your home when you’re not there. Surrounding the telescoping pole are the far-field mics that are used to pick up voice commands. Around back is a small payload area, capable of carrying 4.4lbs (2kg) of cargo. By default, this area has an insert with two cupholders.

Read more in The Verge and you can sign up here.

Astro with its camera extended

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