Amazon Astro could be the robot we’ve been waiting for. Here’s what the $1,000 bot can do


Amazon’s Astro gets cute.

Amazon/Screenshot by Katie Collins/HDOT

Has Amazon just made the home robot we’ve all been waiting for? Sure, we’ve seen some cool and adorable droids over the years that promise to revolutionize our home lives, but they’ve largely failed to truly meet our needs. Enter Astro. This autonomous robot, which made an appearance at Amazon’s fall event on Tuesday, is inspired by science fiction while incorporating features of Amazon’s AI technology.

Astro rolled out at the end of the hour-long event, which also saw Amazon announce a number of other updates, including the Echo Show 15, Amazon Smart Thermostat, Halo View fitness band and Ring products, and the bot immediately stole the show with its cute doe eyes.

But what can Astro actually do? To start with, it can map your floor plan, and it can follow voice commands, bringing all the benefits of Alexa to an agile pal who can follow you around on wheels. During its presentation, Amazon pitched Astro as a companion robot who can hang out with elderly parents, throwing them a beatboxing party (if that’s their thing), and helping them stay in regular contact with family members and friends via video calls.

Amazon Astro could be the robot we've been waiting for. Here's what the $1,000 bot can do

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Thanks to Astro’s computer vision, you can also use the robot to check what’s going on in your home while you’re away. It doesn’t look like Astro can play with your pets just yet, but it can check whether your dog has destroyed your couch again, or, thanks to a dedicated periscope cam that can look upward, whether your cat is snoozing on the top-most shelf.

Amazon said Astro will also respect your privacy. The bot incorporates Alexa’s standard privacy features, and owners will be able to denote no-go zones for Astro, and will be able to take advantage of do-not-disturb features to minimize how much Astro moves at certain times of day.

One thing that’s often missing when it comes to home robots is an opportunity to actually buy one. Either they’re astronomically expensive, or they turn out to be little more than concept products. Amazon has opened a waiting list for Astro, promising the robot will be available before the end of the year, for $1,000. (UK and Australian prices were not announced, but that’s about £740 or AU$1,380.)

The company is also pledging a long-term commitment to robots, promising there’ll be more to come in future, with Astro 2 already in the works.