Amazon’s Astro could have offered us a glimpse into the future. It could have been something life-changing. Instead, its obvious flaws are being put under the spotlight before it has even been released. This is probably down to two things: Astro came into the world far too early, and far too cheaply.
Amazon’s Wall-E-looking Astro robot that is touted as a helpful tool for taking care of aging family members, as a smart home display and a home security robot, has started making its way to people’s homes.
Actually, you get Astro, Amazon’s long-rumored home robot. The company has been working on this for nearly four years, and it has plans for Astro. It’s just not quite sure exactly what those are yet, so it’s offering the robot by invitation only, hoping thousands of early customers can help define what it’s for. The 2-foot-tall, 20-pound robot has a 10-inch touchscreen; includes an array of sensors, cameras, and microphones; and can wheel, multi-directionally, around your home. It costs $1,000.
Because stairs are obviously a problem for Astro, any deliveries are limited to another point on the same floor. Alternatively, you can go to the fridge yourself and skip putting your drink in Astro’s cup holder to save a bit of time—or just ask the person loading the beverage into Astro to just hand it to you instead.
This begs the inevitable question of what Astro’s purpose is, and the answer seems to be a little bit of everything.
While there haven’t been any complaints regarding Astro flinging itself off stairs like everyone initially thought, I also haven’t seen videos where the Astro encounters stairs, so we’re not sure how the robot will behave when it eventually does encounter steps.
The Amazon Astro is available invite-only in the United States and costs $1,449.99 (roughly $1,844.79).