The long-rumored Amazon Alexa robot has been announced as the Amazon Astro, a three-wheeled home assistant robot that will initially cost $999.99. The dog-sized device is the culmination of all of Amazon’s efforts in smart assistants, AI, robotics, and home security.
Amazon Astro sits about 2 feet high and weighs 20 lbs. Upfront is a pair of 12-inch wheels and around the back is a swiveling caster wheel that allows the device to rotate 360 degrees. Its top speed is 1 meter per second and can last for about 2 hours of movement on a single charge. That charging is done automatically through a docking station that allows it to go from zero to full in about 45 minutes.
The robot has a 10-inch screen that can move around, like the Echo Show 10 display can. The screen has a 5-megapixel camera for video calls, but there is also a 12-megapixel periscope camera that can be completely hidden or extended up to 42-inches straight up.
Amazon Astro has a pair of 2-inch speakers and a passive resonator underneath for bass. On its back is a cargo area that can be swapped out with different accessories, like a dual cup holder or a bin. The robot is able to carry 4.4 lbs or cargo and there is a 15 watt USB-C power port for use with powered accessories that Amazon hopes 3rd-parties will utilize with their own accessories.
That’s the hardware rundown of Amazon Astro, but what can it do? Through the use of a slew of self-contained sensors, it can map out and learn your home’s floorplan, but it cannot go up or downstairs or go outside. You can teach the names of specific rooms and faces so that it can go to a room or find someone in the house through simple voice commands, allowing it to act as a delivery device.
Of course, it can provide all the usual functionality of an Alexa device, like an Echo Show. That includes video calls. Its sensors allow it to keep you in frame and follow you around during such calls. All of the processing for floorplans and facial recognition is done locally on the device itself and not sent to the cloud.
Amazon Astro can serve as a security device by automatically patroling the home and alerting you of sounds or people. You can assign specific viewpoint locations in the home for it to stop at and monitor. That way you can easily send it to specific spots if you want to check on something while not at home, without needing to manually guide it each time.
In conjunction with Ring home alarm systems, Astro can automatically go to the site of an alarm sensor that has been tripped to record video to Ring’s cloud. There’s also Alexa Guard integration to alert you of certain sounds, like glass breaking or a smoke detector alarm going off.
There are countless other things that Astro can be used for, yet there are even more things that you would want it to do that it can’t. This is a very new type of device that will likely evolve very quickly, much like the original Amazon Echo did.
You can request an invitation to purchase Amazon Astro for $999.99. The price will go up to $1,449.99 after the invite-only period. With the purchase you get 6-months of Ring Protect Pro, the subscription service for storing security video footage in the cloud and other features.