Users are showing off what the $1,450 Amazon smart home robot can really do
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Photos and videos of Amazon’s home robot Astro in the real world have begun to emerge as early adopters of the invite-only smart home gadget start to play around with their new bot.
Surprisingly, despite the device starting to ship last November, only a couple of videos have emerged so far. Bob Rekieta uploaded this video of his Astro trundling off after being commanded to go to the den with a beer onboard (presumably that someone put there, as this thing does not have hands).
Then Astro is told to “find Celeste,” and the robot tilts its screen disarmingly while looking around with its circular “eyes.” It executes the command, finding the beer-seeking resident of the home and displaying “Hi Celeste” on its screen as it looks at her.
Matthew Nereim, a fifth-grade teacher in Florida, spoke to Bloomberg about his experiences with his Astro which he received a couple of months ago. Nereim told Bloomberg he likes to control the robot from his phone and tease his dog with it.
He also has Astro follow him around when he’s home, acting as a portable Alexa smart display that can also carry drinks in its onboard cargo holder. “It’s like your little own R2-D2,” Nereim told Bloomberg. “My friends and family think it’s hilarious. They say: ‘This thing follows you?!’”
There are some issues, however, including the robot getting confused when looking for its charging base and any time it’s near stairs, Nereim said. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to have ever thrown itself down the stairs — as reports that emerged when the robot was first announced indicated it might do.
Nereim also told Bloomberg that he thinks the retail price of $1,449.99 is a bit steep for what you get (he paid $999 as an early backer), adding he thinks $700 would be more reasonable.
Announced in September 2021, Astro is Amazon’s first home robot and is currently available to purchase through an invitation program for $999. This is Amazon’s Day 1 beta program where users have the option of submitting feedback to help improve the device before it goes on general sale.
Amazon doesn’t release sales data, but company spokesperson Patrick Santucci told The Verge that “[they’re] seeing positive feedback and learning a lot about how customers want to use a consumer robot.” He also said it’s still too early to say when the device will be more widely available.
Astro is a camera-equipped robot on wheels. You can access a live view of its video feed from the Astro app, remotely control its movements, and talk and listen through its speakers and microphones.
It can act as a home security robot and send an alert when it sees an unrecognized person. With a Ring Protect Pro plan subscription ($20 a month), you can access video history for up to 60 days and schedule the robot to patrol autonomously and investigate events it detects.
As is shown in the video, Astro can learn your home layout and obey commands to go to a specific room. It can also recognize faces and deliver items to a specific person. As a smart display, it can play music, show you the weather, and answer questions.
Video calling is also available with a 5-megapixel camera, and Amazon said there are plans for it to work with third-party accessories to record data like blood pressure. Amazon is advertising the product as potentially helpful for remotely caring for aging loved ones when paired with its new Alexa Together service.
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