Amazon’s new Astro home robot launches too early

After introducing Alexa, a smart voice assistant, into his life, Amazon moved on to the next big thing: a robotic assistant that can monitor the house while you’re away. Called Astro, Amazon claims that his latest robot unites advances in “artificial intelligence, computer vision, sensor technology and voice and finite computing“But it can be a nightmare, and we ‘re not just talking about privacy.

The Astro is designed to be your eyes and ears while you are away. Unlike close-range cameras, which offer you live broadcasts, the Astro is smart enough to respond to certain triggers such as a fire alarm or the sound of a broken glass and send a notification to your phone to alert you.

For those caring for elderly relatives, Astro can serve reminders and even help you practically stop by and check on your loved ones with a video call. When you’re in the store, you can even ask Astro to check the cupboard for the ingredients you need to make dinner. He can also patrol your house while you are on vacation.

While you’re at home, Astro is the epitome of Alexa and can be instructed to keep track of you anywhere, providing weather updates, playing music and podcasts, and even handling phone calls for you. Instead of reaching for your phone, you can simply ask Astro to capture the moment for you.

Amazon offers the Astro at a starting price of $ 999, but documents for its development have expired Deputy which reveals that the device is “fragile” and deeply insufficient.

To begin with, in order to fulfill his promise to “improve the customer’s life”, the robot must first understand it. Each household is different both in its design and dynamics. Before improving his life, the robot must first understand who the customer is and this is where the mapping process begins.

It starts with floor plans and identifying objects in the house such as furniture or pets and then moves on to understanding safe areas to move around. This requires mapping customer behavior to know the areas of the house that are frequently visited and when.

When Amazon simply claims that the Astro can serve as a reminder to specific people, it does not describe in detail the process of how the robot knows and recognizes people in the household. This requires the robot to first record the characteristics of the faces and voices of people in the house and scan for deviations to “identify strangers”, a feature that Amazon can boast.

However, a developer who worked on the robot told Vice that the device’s face recognition worked poorly, which would likely trigger Sentry mode in the robot, making it ominously monitor people around it and record audio and video. of which he will be uploaded to the cloud as part of his investigative efforts.

Amazon claims that once it has been designated an “out of bounds” zone, Astro will not visit these demarcated areas. However, the developers told Vice that the robot would throw itself down a flight of stairs at every opportunity and was not designed to deal with such an attack.

Vice also said the developers said the device’s mast had broken repeatedly during testing and placing the device on “accessibility targets.”absurd nonsense and marketing ”and“ potentially dangerous ”.

Interesting engineering turned to Amazon for further comments on the new robot.

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