Amazon announces Astro home robot that will guard the house and help with caregiving

·2-min read

Amazon has created a home robot designed to guard the house as well as help with caregiving.

Named Astro, the device works with Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant to respond to voice commands and also syncs with Ring home security products.

Astro can set up routines and reminders, and also play music and TV shows while rolling around the house. Its round digital eyes close or widen as it does tasks, giving it a human-like touch.

The technology giant has said it will release the robot to customers in the US later this year.

It will cost $1,000 (£740).

Amazon's senior vice president of devices and services, Dave Limp, said the firm's latest gadgets were the "next big leaps forward" and showcased "science fiction becoming reality".

Industry expert Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, said Astro was a "bold move".

"Unlike rivals such as Apple, Amazon is willing to bring highly experimental products to market and assess consumer reaction," he said.

"Amazon has shown it has the discipline to either evolve a product, as it did with the Echo, or abandon it, as it did with Fire Phone.

"The Astro robot follows other products including the Ring Always Home Camera - a mini-drone that acts as an indoor flying security camera - which are experimental and limited to the US market but take the company into new territory.

"Offering products resembling something from a science fiction novel positions Amazon as an innovative company in the eyes of consumers and investors.

"Furthermore, if it stumbles upon a successful category, it secures the first-mover advantage.

"There is also the added benefit that such a radical product will guarantee a slew of media coverage, albeit with the risk of a privacy backlash.

"Astro is a bold move by Amazon, but a logical step given its expertise in robots and desire to become more integrated into consumers' daily lives.

"When viewed as an Echo Show on wheels and given its synergies with Amazon's Ring products, you can see why the company feels it is a bet worth making."

However, Mr Wood warned the device would be a "lightning conductor" in the debate around privacy, adding Astro could be "the litmus test for convenience versus privacy".

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